- December 26: playing Fallout 76, watching The Professor and the Madman (verdict: not bad! ), bingeing the first episodes of True Detective season 3 (verdict: SO MUCH BETTER than Season 2)
- Dec. 27: Bingeing the first episodes of His Dark Materials season 2 (verdict: good, and they’ve tightened up some of my issues with the second book), Taco Bell for dinner. NACHO FRIES! (verdict: disappointing. The Dorito-taco-thing was very good. The resulting Run For The Border was as urgent I remember it from 20 years ago. Some things never change)
- Dec. 28: Working on the workbench, burgers for dinner, finishing True Detective Season 3 (verdict: I highly recommend this series.)
- Dec. 29: Working on the workbench, His Dark Materials season ender (verdict: I’m very curious to see how they approach the third season, as everything in that book goes off the fucking rails. And I wonder if they will give the main character any agency of her own, as it all disappears midway through the second book)
- Dec. 30: Finishing the workbench, Onward (verdict: that’s the hardest I’ve laughed during a movie in a long time. Not quite standard Pixar-level, but recommended.)
So far there have been no bites on the Steinberger; the listing has gotten 800+ views and 4 watchers but no offers. I’m not paying anything to leave it up there, so I’ll just sit on it and see what happens. Update: I got one offer this morning from a guy who wants to trade it for a Rickenbacker 4003 Pearlstar—something I might have been interested in back in my Geddy Lee worship days, but at this point I’d rather have the cash.
At work, I finally completed a torturous process that began two months ago to design and publish a digital report. The report itself launched last month but due to various editorial and review issues I had to update the PDF and then build the digital report. It’s a high-level view of the state of climate action with an eye towards the next 20 years, and it was a challenge to bring together all of the text, graphics, and digital assets. Even though the process is automated, I found myself diving into code at the tail end and fixing a ton of issues by hand, which was a pleasant surprise.
We’ve now made two different batches of Bailey’s, one from the recipe I posted earlier in the week and one from the Betty Crocker cookbook. Before you get the idea we’ve just been pouring cups of it over our cornflakes every morning, we’ve been sipping on each one slowly—the online recipe is lighter and very almondy and the Betty Crocker recipe is much heavier with more chocolate—but neither are a 100% stand-in for the real thing. So we’ll make our way through these and then we’ll try another recipe.
Jen did break out and use the galette iron on Tuesday, filling the house with the smell of Belgian dessert waffles and making it impossible to concentrate on work. There’s now a full batch sitting on the counter ready to eat when the urge to snack hits. She’s not as pleased with this batch compared to the previous one, so the search for the right modifications to that recipe continues as well.
And the duck boots that I ordered over a month ago finally arrived the other day: they are 1 size too small for my feet, which means I’m going to have to brave the crowds at Nordstrom Rack to return them sometime next week (depending on what the return window is). That was a bummer.
Jen started a Lockardugan family tradition after Finn was born, something I’d never seen until she explained it to me: an advent calendar. She spends a ton of time searching out fun activities and traditions for our family to enjoy together, and I’ve written about some of them in years past. This year proved to be an extreme challenge.
We spent a quiet weekend together continuing the calendar events, starting with a Friday night ride through the area to find the best Christmas lights with some hot chocolate. Some of the old favorites weren’t set up this year. There’s a house with music-keyed lights and a working, lighted disco stage that gets tons of visitors every year who put a sign up saying, in effect, “thanks for coming, we’ll see you next year.” But the good news is that most other houses that that have been historically dark are covered in lights: evidence of Jen’s theory that we’re all trying to find cheer where we can, and one way to show it is to clean out the Target decoration aisle.
On Saturday we got a lazy start and then got down to business making Christmas cookies: first we made a batch of molasses and then mint dark chocolate dough, and then baked both of them. We’d talked about making galettes after the cookies but I think everyone was tired after being on our feet into the afternoon so we took the rest of the day off.
After dinner, we went out to check out a new house that Jen had heard about, which by itself made up for all of the lame Christmas house displays of the past: a lone house up in Security that had an incredible display keyed to a metal Christmas playlist.
On Sunday we all had different things going on, so I cleaned out the kegerator and did some puttering in the basement before we went out for a ride to the store. When we got home I worked on the engine in the garage and then came in to watch some football in the warmth until it was time for our Sunday activity: a dinner picnic under the tree. Because we didn’t feel like making anything, we got chicken from Popeye’s, made a fire in the fireplace, and finished playing the rest of Thursday’s activity: a homemade game of Christmas Who Am I.
Jen spent a lot of time organizing the advent calendar this year, and really filled it with fun things for the three of us to do together. Despite all of the bullshit going on beyond the borders of our house, I feel like we’ve spent the best holiday time with each other this year than ever, and I feel more cheerful about this season than I have in a long time—even though we can’t see family or friends.
Remember when I was writing about organizing all of my photo files into date-specific folders? My obsessive-compulsive tendencies paid off yesterday when Jen mentioned that she couldn’t find her recipe card for galettes—the one she’d transcribed from an index card at her dad’s house, written in her grandmother’s handwriting. We happened to be at my desk, and within one minute I’d drilled into the December 2005 folder on the server and found that I’d taken pictures of that index card on the 26th, the day we found the box in her Dad’s cupboard.
I don’t know what I’m more excited about—the fact that everything is organized, or the possibility of fresh galettes.
I’m sitting in my Mom’s living room sipping on a Genessee Cream Ale, enjoying the pursuit of doing nothing important for the day. We did go out and clean out her flowerpots, and we wound up her hoses and brought them inside, and we also moved her outside furniture into the garage. The big thing we did was divide Dad’s ashes up into smaller amounts on the front porch, and seal a bunch of them up into an urn so that we can inter him at the church in Aurora tomorrow. Mom has a spot set up for him in a columbarium facing the lake, where he’ll be steps away from their old house.
After we stick him in the wall, we’re going to scatter some of his ashes in the lake, maybe some in the garden of the old house (if the renter isn’t home), then drive up to the farm and scatter the remainder of the bag in the field behind the house. I’ve got four containers that I think I’m going to bring to the beach. Some of my best memories with him are of the beach, throwing us in the waves, wearing his floppy yellow hat, and I have had a love of the beach ever since.
The verdict on the AirPods Pro: Worth the money. I called Jen this evening with them, and the sound was crisp and clear. She was able to hear the noise I was making with Finn’s whittling knife two feet away from my ears.
I’ve been needing new glasses for a while now; a month ago I put a big scratch across the left lens that has been bugging me ever since. I went to Warby Parker and reordered my current frame/lens combo and was disappointed to learn that my prescription was six months expired. Not all that keen on doing an in-person eye exam, I called and asked if I could bypass the prescription. They told me no, but I could do an online eye checkup (!?!) that could get me through until a new exam was possible. I downloaded the app to my phone, logged in to the website, and it stepped me through a rough exam for both eyes. I’m supposed to hear something from them in the next 12 hours, and I hope it’s good news, because I would love to have new glasses.
In the meantime, I did some investigation and found that I could order prescription safety glasses and from what it looks like, I wouldn’t need to give them a current prescription.
We split up Dad’s remains on Mom’s front porch into small Tupperware containers while Finley sang Funkytown. Don’t ask me to explain.
On Monday, we took advantage of warm weather, sunny skies, and a day off from school to hike in Gambrill State Park north of Frederick, which features an incredible 360˚ view of northern Maryland. We’re about 3 weeks too early to see trees changing color, but it was still fantastic to get outside.
I love you, blondie. Happy birthday!
I’d hoped we could do something a lot more interesting to celebrate, but as with everything else, COVID has put the kibosh on that. So we have steamed crabs on our menu for tonight, with a scratch-made German Chocolate cake for dessert.
Quarantine blows, and the fact that we’ve been holed up in our house dutifully waiting out the Covid while half the fucking country has decided IT’S PARTY TIME Y’ALL doesn’t make things easier. All of us intelligent science-loving rational folks have been self isolating, driving each other nuts in specific ways only nuclear families can, while the tinfoil morons have bitched and complained en masse and busted heads in the WalMart yelling that it’s their God-given right to wander the housewares aisle without a mask coughing on anybody they please. Two weeks later, they are shocked, SHOCKED when the Covid flattens them and they’re on a ventilator moaning about how they never thought they’d get this thing, not even considering the eighty other people they infected. It’s those morons I’m afraid of.
We can’t vacation like we normally would, we can’t stay overnight anywhere because things are either closed or infected, and we can’t day trip without the dog because she would FLIP OUT if she realized we all had left without her. There isn’t a strong enough dose of Trazadone in the world, and they haven’t perfected the three-day time release yet. Puppy daycare has basically told us thanks, but you don’t have to come back, and we’re keeping the deposit on those other days you already paid for. So Jen compiled a list of things we could do together under those very exacting stipulations and we set about doing them this past week.
First, we checked out Antietam Battlefield two Saturdays ago, which is out on the border of the big part of Maryland and West Virginia. It’s been hot and getting hotter for the past two weeks, so we dialed up the air conditioning and packed a ton of water for the trip. There’s a lot to see on the battlefield without having to go in any of the dog-restricted visitor centers, so we used the hike to tire out the dog. We checked out the Sunken Lane and then drove over to Burnside Bridge, where a short walk down from the parking lot puts you under some leafy trees and in merciful shade. A couple of hours of hiking and sweating were all we needed to feel like we’d seen the place, so we retreated into Sharpsburg for some burgers at the Dairy Queen and hydrated the dog. Then we continued west into Berkeley Springs where we showed Finn where the two and a half of us had gotten spa treatments when she was still a cantaloupe and the masseuses wouldn’t touch Jen for fear she’d spontaneously shoot a baby across the table and knock over their scented oil displays.
On Friday we drove north to the Maryland border to go check out Rocks State Park, a place our friends had taken Finn and I a couple of years ago to see the overlook and the waterfall. We were able to wait out the line at the small parking lot (they are carefully monitoring visitors) and hiked in to the river area. We found a quiet spot downstream and let Hazel approach the water at her own pace; she’s nervous around the river and wanted to take things slowly, so I followed her lead and let her follow her nose in until she was up to her paws. I think she was surprised to find herself that deep, because she would suddenly want to retreat to the bank and sniff it out, and then slowly go back in again. The water was cool and delicious in the humidity so we stayed in as long as we could. Then we found a way to get across the river and hiked up among the maskless morons so that Jen could see it for herself. There’s been a lot of flood activity lately so where the falls were clear four years ago there are several huge tree trunks leaning over the rocks now, which is kind of a bummer.
Saturday we returned to the Sharpsburg area and hiked up the C&O canal on the north bank of the Potomac above Harper’s Ferry. It’s a challenge to find parking in places like this on a good day, and Covid has made it even more difficult. We picked this trail because it’s lightly traveled, and thankfully there were not a lot of people out there. It was even hotter than the previous day, so we hydrated continuously and enjoyed the shady pathway.
On Sunday it was too hot to do any damn thing so I dug our inflatable pool out of the basement, washed it down, and blew it up with the compressor (oh, thank you lord for the wonderful compressor). I switched our water over to unfiltered and filled it up in a sunny spot on the back lawn, and Finn and I jumped in around noon. I’m happy to say I didn’t get out until 3:15, but the price of all that leisure was a bright pink sunburn on the tops of my legs. The rest of the day was nothing but relaxation (and a sunburn-induced nap, if I’m honest).