Well, I'm back from the holidays safe and sound.
The trip down to Orange County was uneventful, which is no surprise because driving down Interstate 5 is pretty darn boring. It gave me a chance to spend multiple hours working on my new song "Stinky Cows", sung to the tune of "Silver Bells". You get bonus points if you add in your best Bing Crosby impression.
I stayed at the Residence Inn, and not just because I needed someplace to work on all twelve months of the hand-drawn and painted calendar that I give my parents every year. Because clearly I would never wait until the day before Christmas to start something like that *cough* *cough*. No, I stay at the Residence Inn because every day I leave, and every evening I come back and it's all magically cleaned up. They even do the dishes, by which I mean if you leave one mug in the sink, they will put it in the dishwasher and run it with one mug. After the first day I made an effort to leave more dirty dishes just so I didn't feel like they were wasting so many resources. I also figured out that the rooms have a toaster, so you could, theoretically, go to the breakfast room, grab a bagel and cream cheese, and go back to your room for breakfast, all without slowing down or talking to anyone. This place was designed for me!
The day before Christmas (which was actually the day after Christmas as celebrated by other people), my parents' oven was found to be in non-working order and it didn't even have a thick coating of dust on it. I think that oven just has Seasonal Affective Disorder because it broke last year right before Christmas as well. The stollen turned out just fine after being baked in the Dutch oven (or at least in what my mother refers to as a Dutch oven, but really an electric skillet with a lid according to the rest of the world) despite being left to rise all day during an important game of Boggle (which I totally won).
Jojo the Enforcer and her family didn't make it out to California this year, but everyone else gathered to exchange viruses the next day. I received a Chinese brush painting kit from my parents (which could possibly be seen as their attempt to get a better gift for next Christmas if one were a little cynical which of course I am not). It has watercolors, a ceramic palette and brush holder, a bunch of different brushes, and a coke spoon. I was a little thrown off by that last item, but... different cultures and all. However, I read the instruction book later and found out that it was a little water dipper, not a coke spoon. Who knew? The instruction book is impressive in other ways because it starts with one page explaining the function of all the pieces in the kit (not a coke spoon!), then has one page demonstrating the different brush strokes, and then the next page is Bam! paint this complicated fish! We all know I would have skipped any instructions in between, so it's the perfect book for me.
Sons number one and two repaired the oven, so we were saved from a Christmas dinner cooked on the propane grill outside. I ate too much, a recurring theme over the holidays. The next generation was judged incapable of doing the dishes until all of the china was safely washed, dried, and put away. Not a really good sign since the youngest one there was nine years old. These kids today...
The next day was pretty low key aside from the oven sort of not working again. And by not working, I mean failing to ignite properly despite a good flow of gas to it. I'm not going to claim there was some big ball of fire or anything... but it did blow both of the oven doors open when it finally did ignite. I think someone ought to check to see if Jeff or Mike took out a new life insurance policy on my parents recently.
After crushing my mom and K-poo in Boggle earlier in the week, I graciously let my mom win a game of Scrabble. (Yeah, it wasn't even close. And I got stuck with the Q at the end of the game.)
Anyhow, this year I managed not to get lost while driving back to Woodland, and the dog was happy to see me. The cats might have noticed I was gone. Or maybe not. The birds screamed like they always do. And the cops showed up the next day looking for some guy I've never heard of.
Happy New Year!