The Oregon Christmas extravaganza:
Mer & I greeted Andrew at the airport, and arrived home in time for buffalo roast. The next day I took off from alpaca work, instead being lazy (until I felt guilty for being lazy and, to compensate, helped make pizza for lunch). Since we had the house to ourselves, us kids watched Superbad in the afternoon: hilarious. A sugar cookie baking and decorating session took up most of the evening. In the days before Christmas, we went into town for Crazy Pepper and Christmas shopping, took walks in the snow, explored the woods & logging road (complete with snowball fights), ate cinnamon rolls & holiday cookies galore, and caught up on Degrassi episodes. And in the midst of all this, Mum & Andrew & I played a number of Scrabble matches. The Saturday before, Andrew & I joined up with Mer, Mer's friends, & Lindsey for a bar-hopping night, going from Full Sail, to the British themed pub, to Jack's (where our clothes picked up the worst cigarette smoke). The 23rd was calmer, as we visited with Dad, hung out with my grandmother's side of the family, and hid away inside from the rain. Christmas Eve involved holiday movies, a long walk with Andrew to the corner store via the irrigation canal, prepping sandwiches, and celebrating with Tim's side of the family. Then we kids opened a gift each (Mum's secretive knitting & sewing projects! & a joke played on Andrew), and sat into the evening drinking ridiculous tropical drinks thought up by Andrew and eating leftovers.
Christmas morning was slow going -- Mer didn't wake up till we were all *quite* ready to start with gifts. Always fun! I'm still enjoying chocolates, my new pajama bottoms, my clean teeth, new body lotion, and softest socks ever. Andrew got his bathrobe which refuses to fit into suitcases. After gorging on gifts, we kids headed into town early to meet up with Dad (to hang out and exchange gifts), and then to reunite with Mum & Tim & Grammy at the Hood River Inn. The buffet was amazing -- too many things to sample -- and the desserts almost did me in: I had about ten different bits of dessert, all involving chocolate. Eating three courses over a span of two hours is also a convenient way of spending time with family. My favorite part of the evening came after we had all gotten home, and we kids & Mum felt the need to exercise off our ridiculously huge dinner. We ended up taking a walk in the snow down Miller Road, and then trying out Tim's vintage sled & toboggan. We didn't always end up going very fast (ok, half the time Mer and I were "rowing" ourselves down the hill with our hands), but it was a beautiful snowy night, and we were laughing. The sled was hands down the winner for sledding on an icy road covered in fluffy snow.
The 26th was sad, as the day after Christmas always is, and because it was time to pack up and head out.
MLA in Chicago:
Andrew & I took a red eye into Chicago, grabbed under two hours of sleep in the hotel, and then the madness of MLA began. We held down the Stanford Hospitality Suite with Jill, and I think it was a success overall. We hosted breakfasts and lunches in the suite, listened & chatted with our interviewing graduate students, welcomed professors who stopped by and offered advice to our candidates, took our people out for dinner (Italian food and then sushi), and then celebrated at the end with a small pizza party in the suite. Jill & I managed to attend one panel per day -- I especially enjoyed the one on George Eliot and Victorian ideas of "Englishness" (not so much the one on Victorian attitudes toward the body). On the final day, after breakfast with Jill, Andrew & I explored downtown a bit, had Thai food for lunch, and then caught an earlier bus to Madison. My feet were simply too tired to troop around a museum for an hour after lunch... must go back sometime soon!
The New Year in Madison:
Strange to be back, as I haven't visited since last spring break (and then, only for one week). Sometimes I get flashbacks to when I was here for the summer I was studying for quals...
New Year's Eve: Andrew & I slept in and then went food shopping at TJ's: very successful trip! We baked an awesome dinner for our quiet night in: olive & rosemary bread, salmon in a lemon & white wine sauce, spinach and zucchini. Also: the herb olive oil at TJ's really *is* worth the $5. For dessert, chocolate lava cake.
New Year Day was quiet -- we took a *frigid* walk in the 7 degree coldness that is Madison in January, baked a loaf of chocolate babka, and watched the last of "The Next Food Network Star", which Andrew had DVRed.
Today we took another walk, as Andrew had to meet with his adviser at school. This time I was prepared, adding another pair of socks and another layer of shirts and scarves. I hung out with Vanity Fair in the Union for a while (I love that they have a gas fire there, very cozy). Andrew & I searched in the stores on State St. for a new coat for me... and then searched the West side mall this evening... and now we have resorted again to the internets. Sometimes I wish I could sew.