0

What Do You Bring to an Inter-Species Potluck?

Like most other offices, “Adventures in Cheeseland” has a holiday party between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Probably the only difference between ours and yours is that being inter-species, we don’t allow meat. It would definitely ruin the ambience if someone saw a friend/family member in the stew.

Being in charge means that Lenny and George (they are the mice in the header) need to make sure that everything runs smoothly. They are looking at the sign-up sheet to see what else is needed.

George: It looks like almost everyone is bringing something.

Lenny: Oh, no! Sigmund Squirrel has signed up to bring acorn squash again. It’s your turn to tell him that smashed up acorns are different than acorn squash.

George: Fine. But you tell Hortense Hen that it creeps out people when she brings in deviled eggs. Everyone knows where they come from.

Lenny: Eww! I forgot about that.

George: It appears that Snoops and Kommando are getting together to make catnip brownies. Do you think that’s appropriate for an office party?

Lenny: If you think it’s a problem, you tell them. They scare me.

George: They’re harmless. Cat won’t let them near us.

Lenny: Don’t you remember what happened last year at the party? Snoops threatened to make me the main dish!

George: I’d forgotten all about it. Well, you did make her pretty mad.

Lenny: I thought she’d like me bringing kitty kibble.

George: You brought kitty kibble from her secret stash.

Lenny: How was I supposed to know that?

George: It was behind the kitty bed in Cat’s office.

Lenny: Oh, yeah. I told you we should have gone in together and gotten pumpkin spice ice cream and pumpkin spice coffee.

George: Most of the staff doesn’t like pumpkin.

Lenny: But it was a great sale!

George: So do you have any ideas for this year?

Lenny: I think so. What are you bringing?

George: Well, I was going to bring a cheeseball. But when I bought one last year, the kids ate out the core. They didn’t think I’d miss it. So I’m thinking almond cookies. I can go down the street to the Chinese restaurant to get them. That way, the kids won’t even see them.

Lenny: That’s a great idea! Almost everyone likes almonds or cookies.

George: So what’s your idea?

Lenny: I was thinking hot chocolate. Well, not really hot chocolate because it’s served cold.

George: So you’re bringing cold hot chocolate?

Lenny: Yeah. I found it in an old book. It think it might be someone’s family recipe. Do you want to try some? I made a test batch and brought it in.

George: Sure! I love chocolate!

(They go to Lenny’s office and close the door. Lenny brings out a pitcher and two small glasses. He pours a brownish liquid into both glasses. George sniffs and wrinkles his whiskers.)

George: This smell kinda weird, Len. Are you sure you made it right?

Lenny: I followed the recipe exactly.

George: Okay. Well, here we go.

(George takes a large mouthful, turns green, and spits it back in the glass.)

Lenny: What’s wrong? Don’t you like it?

George: That is the worst cold hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Let me see that recipe.

(Lenny pulls out the recipe and gives it to George.)

Lenny: See, it says it was put together by some doctor in Spain in 1631.

George: It says “Take one hundred cocoa beans, two chilies, a handful of anise seed and two of vanilla (two pulverized Alexandria roses can be substituted), two drams of cinnamon, one dozen almonds and the same amount of hazelnuts, half a pound of white sugar and enough annatto to give some color.”

Lenny: Yeah, it didn’t say what kind of chilies, so I asked the guy to give me a couple of hot ones. And I told you it wasn’t served hot.

George: Did you try this?

Lenny: No. The smell made me sick.

George: And you want to serve this at our party?

Lenny: I said it was an idea.

George: It’s a terrible idea.

Lenny: OK. What do you think I should bring?

George: We still need napkins and paper plates.

 

References:

http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/the-history-of-chocolate.asp

http://albanykid.com/2011/12/11/hot-chocolate-hot-cocoa-and-xocoatl/

3

I Don’t Have Time for This

I will admit up front that I am a Christmas procrastinator. However, I do have a couple of not-bad excuses for it. (Of course I have time to make up excuses – I’m not doing much of anything else.)

I have always preferred to do my wrapping all at once. I’m one of those people who has twenty-five different rolls of paper because I love to have all the different colors under the tree. I probably got the idea from TV in the days before I realized those people don’t actually wrap their own stuff. I should look into getting “people” to do it for me. I make a huge mess. Besides, I have to make sure all my daughter’s presents aren’t wrapped in the same paper, don’t I?

I’m also one of those people who likes to see lots of presents under the tree. So I have been known to wrap a stack of books in several different packages. And I like ribbons and bows. And ribbons really do look better if you get the skinny kind and make some of your bows by hand. But that’s a lot of work, so I can’t do it at the same time as I wrap because I would be too tired to care what things look like at the end and get crabby. And my husband says I get crabby enough as it is.

At one point, I was organized enough to get my shopping done by the end of November. Then I got married, got a real job, had kids, and got medicine for being bipolar. (I spend a lot less money, but around the holidays really miss those days when I could get twice as many things done at once.) All of that took up a lot of time. But the final straw came when Rascal moved in.

Rascal was a sweet, lovable cat with one really annoying habit. She never met a ribbon or bow she didn’t want to eat. She also liked opening presents. For years, every bow we had came with teeth marks. Not only that, cats don’t digest ribbon well. So we’d spend a fair amount of time cleaning up cat vomit.

This house has a sun room we can use to store presents. But the first one was really small. It was either wait to wrap the presents or continually repair things with tape. Eventually nothing could be opened without a knife on Christmas morning. Luckily I come from one of those families where the men don’t feel fully dressed unless they have a pocket knife.

I also like to power-bake over a couple of days. Once again, I make a huge mess and would like to limit the clean-up to one major sand-blasting each year. Besides, we want fresh cookies, right? My mother used to make a lot of pressed cookies (the ones that come out of the thing that looks like a lube/grout gun) and Mexican Wedding/Russian Tea Cake cookies. Those cookies start out so dry, no one can tell how old they are (at least hers did). Mine tend more to the chocolate chip/peanut butter variety which don’t hold up so well.

Bottom line? This was my week-end to prepare for Christmas. On Friday, we had a lot of boxes to unload at work. No big deal; I have a brace to wear at night and can barely tell by the next morning. I’d been having a little trouble with my shoulder, but that wasn’t interfering with anything, so I didn’t even consider that. My plan: I’d get up Saturday morning, get to work, and be ready for Christmas Sunday night.

Wrong. Apparently whatever I strained in my shoulder is connected to whatever I hurt in my hand. (Guess the song’s right about the shoulder bone being connected to the elbow, etc.) By 1a Saturday morning, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I finally got up about 7a. I could barely move my hand. I wasn’t sure which was worse, the pain or the constant feeling that my arm was ‘waking up’. I tried all those pain relievers (not all at once) that are supposed to allow you ‘to get on with your life’.  I had always made the assumption that they meant with minimal pain. I guess it just means they won’t kill you.

My husband told me I should go to the doctor. It was probably good advice, but unless the doctor was going to do the baking I didn’t really see it as a short-term solution. So I did the logical thing – took a couple of muscle relaxers (from the last time I hurt my shoulder) and slept most of the day. I didn’t get anything done, but I didn’t care.

So, now it is Sunday morning. My arm feels a lot better, but I have a hang-over from the muscle relaxers. I wonder how the family would feel about having all the presents in a giant box. They could guess which present was meant for which person.