Tony and I made it to Granny's house in jig time, without hitting traffic on the Turnpike, and arrived about 1:30 on Christmas Eve. The Gerbers came over to hang out for a while. They had driven down the day before.
Matt and Mike petted Rudy and Missy.
This was our girl's first visit to South Jersey, and she couldn't have been better behaved. Granny likes us to put the woofers in crates when we're not around or not awake. Missy didn't like the idea of going into her cage, but she did. And she didn't make a peep either of the nights we were there.
Tony and I had talked about taking a walk in the woods across the street from Granny's house, but we just didn't have the time to do it. I'm sure Missy would have loved coming along if we could have managed it.
Jean had had major surgery a week and a half or so prior and so Dad, my sister, and the 'phews were going to be doing most of the cooking. Tracey and David took M&M over to Dad and Jean's house to start getting dishes ready for the next day's big meal. I drove Tony and Granny over later in the afternoon.
Everyone but Granny played Telestrations. I'm not usually a very good drawer, but I thought my sketch of "bear cub" turned out well enough for Tony to be able to easily figure out what it was. And he did.
I was happy Jean had made her green Jell-O salad. We all made a dent in that along with the turkey, salami, and ham sandwiches for dinner that evening.
Everyone enjoyed my donuts. And Tony and I had the Sweet Potato Soup for lunch on Christmas Eve and a quick late dinner on Christmas night, after the Gerbers had gone home. They left earlier than usual because David wanted to go into work on the 26th.
We opened our presents in the late morning on Christmas. For one thing, we gave the Gerbers a bag of mostly food gifts ...
There may be better garlic in a yet-to-be-discovered universe.
There was also a jar of Hoboken Farms tomato sauce, which is without a doubt the best jarred pasta sauce in this or any other universe. It's difficult to find. Tony got it at a Bed Bath & Beyond store on 6th Avenue and 19th Street.
There was also a refrigerator magnet like this one, which I had bought for myself too.
And speaking of refrigerator magnets, I gave Granny the one I had picked up for her in London.
Because nothing says "Merry Christmas" like something that sticks to your fridge.
The basset magnet is by Marc Tetro, the same guy who made the pop-out basset hound Jack gave me back in May. I liked mine so much I gave pop-out bassets to M&M for Christmas. And while I was on MT's website, I got a Statue of Liberty pop-out to mail to Paula. Because the Statue of Liberty is one of her obsessions.
I gave Tony a cognac and a California brandy that were the No. 1 and the lower-priced tied-for–No. 2 winners in the tasting I helped organize for Bloomberg Pursuits magazine. (And I edited this story for the magazine.) I also arranged for a cleaning service to come tomorrow. We (mostly Tony) have been talking about hiring someone to spruce up the apartment on occasion, mostly to clean the things we don't get around to doing, and I thought it would be a great surprise for Tony. I put a printout of the cleaning company's home page in the Christmas card I gave the Tonester, which featured a winter wonderland of bassets on skis and sleds.
Tony gave me, among other things, a PlayStation Vita, at my request. Good thing, because the Gerbers gave me Lumines: Electronic Symphony, also at my request. :-) I've really been enjoying the game. I like the songs in this Lumines much more than the ones from the original Lumines, for the PSP. They weren't bad, but these ones are almost uniformly awesome.
Dad showed us some photos he had made from slides he'd taken years and years ago. He had made copies to give to both Tracey and me, but he wants to wait until he has a chance to put dates on them. I took photos of some of the photos to share on the blog.
This is the cutest photo of my sister ever, with Pop Pop. He could be giving her a birthday present. Or he could be giving her a birthday present of his so she can open it for him. I'm guessing it's the latter since she looks dressed for summer, not early spring. Actually, of course, she could be giving him his birthday present.
My mother always made sticky buns at Christmas. My sister and I are posing here with a bun and milk we're leaving out for Santa.
And here's a photo of Dad from his Coast Guard days.
On Wednesday morning, Dad, Jean, Tony, and I went to Green Olive for breakfast, so this South Jersey visit counts as official. Debbie, Brian, and Livia—who had arrived at Dad and Jean's around 1 that morning—caught up with us a little bit later.
Here's Granny at the restaurant wearing a cardinal sweater the Gerbers gave her.
On a flag outside Dad and Jean's house.
On an ornament on Dad and Jean's tree.
And on a bazillion things at Granny's house.
Tony's friend Larry, who lives in Vermont, usually sends him a wreath. This year's had blue trimmings.
On Friday evening, Tony and I hung out with the Schultieses in Park Slope. Bob and Jen made chicken kebabs and rice. Tony bought two bottles of white wine to take with us: the 2010 Domaine de Millet Gros Manseng, which we were trying for the first time and which was outstanding, and the 2008 François Cazin Cour-Cheverny, which we've been drinking regularly.
We gave Abbe Ivan's Hinge, which looks really challenging but really fun, and Zane Reptangles, because they look fun to build things with and Zane loves building things. And the second collection of Pixar shorts to both of them.
On Saturday night, I went to a Happy Ho Ho Holidays! party at our friend Mark M.'s place by myself. I had a great time, as I always do at Mark and José's shindigs, but I would have had a better time if Mr. Tony had come.
That morning at 1, Tony had woken up feeling really cold; Rudy's foot on his leg felt like a hot poker. Later that day, his temperature fluctuated higher and lower than normal. He started coughing and thought he might have bacterial pneumonia. The doctor he saw at the Duane Reade RediClinic said that was a distinct possibility based on his symptoms. She gave him a prescription for an antibiotic and said he should get it filled if he didn't feel better before long. He decided not to mess around and got it filled later that day after his fever came back. He started feeling better pretty quickly but not well enough to go to the party.
I loved Mark's decorated trees. He's got a skylight in the living room so they can get natural light.
Mark's apartment inspires me to want to do more with our place.
Mark did a gift swap. I took a bottle of the Francis Ford Coppola Alicante Bouschet as my gift because Tony bought a case of them and we've got plenty to spare. I ended up with Vinderpants. At long last, someone had the audacity and foresight to make underpants for wine bottles!
The box copy doesn't really say why you might want to put tiny briefs on your bottle of wine, but as best as I can gather, it's a way to cover up your cheap-ass bottle of wine and pretend it might be something better.
Tony and I were going to have a New Year's Eve party last night, but we canceled it because he still wasn't feeling so good. His fever came back again, which the doctor had said would be a sign that he did indeed have pneumonia. He's feeling better today as I write this, though he's still not back to his usual self.
We told all of our guests that we'd have a makeup party later this winter. Instead of hosting our friends, we watched movies both fun—Balls of Fury on cable—and horrible—50/50 from Netflix. I don't get why the latter flick was so critically acclaimed. I didn't like any of the characters. I thought the plot developments were all boring and/or implausible. And I just wanted it to be over. I requested we stop watching, but Tony wanted to get to the end. SPOILER: He predicted Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character would survive his cancer surgery but then die afterward. I said there was no way such a conventional Hollywood film would end in his death. I was right.
The woofers had a cute butt-to-butt moment on the couch today.