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There and Back Again

December 26, 2007

I’m back at work today after four days off and so far it’s been blessedly quiet: no calls from customers, no urgent support requests in my e-mail, no project managers getting all up in my mix. So nice. Mr. Karen and I went to Illinois for the long holiday weekend, spending the first half with my family and the second half with his. On our way there, we stopped at an outlet mall in Indiana because it wouldn’t be Christmas without braving the crowds at a mall at least once. Surprisingly, the traffic around the mall wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what we’d had to navigate when we stopped at Culver’s (on the same road as a KMart and Sam’s Club) for lunch earlier in the day. Maybe the mall was just far enough off the freeway to discourage casual shoppers or maybe it was the rain, but in any case we were in and out within an hour.

Sunday the weather really was awful for being out and about—cold with snow showers and strong winds—but out and about we went. My mom gets around really well for a 77-year old with health problems so bad she has a disabled parking permit. I was impressed. I kept thinking we should maybe take Mom home so she wouldn’t get too tired, but she kept suggesting more places to go so we went and she held up just fine. One of our last stops of the day was my niece’s apartment, where I got to meet her boyfriend’s cat and her kitten, who is the cutest ball of fluff I’ve seen in a long time. I’d say it was too bad I didn’t have the camera with me except not having my hands full taking pictures meant I got plenty of kitten snuggling time.

Monday we moved on to Dale and Joan’s house, where I was delighted to find that Joan had done the hard part of making cookies, leaving Mr. Karen and me to do the fun part, namely the decorating. We worked in a limited palette of four colors plus white and since the cookies were all round our artistic vision was not constrained by shape. (Though looking at the cookies we did last year, we’re not ones to follow rules like “trees are green” anyway.)

We had the cookies done and stored out of dog’s reach by the time our furry nephew (a.k.a. Cello, the yellow lab) arrived with Mr. Karen’s sister Fay and her husband arrived. We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner (complete with guests dropping in during the main course) before heading off to church. This was the first time in years that Mr. Karen and I had been back to the church we got married in. They’ve added a gymnasium behind the sanctuary and a new entrance so people no longer come in the grand doors in front; I sort of felt I was sneaking in to worship, slipping in from the side. I often get teary-eyed in church, but not this time. I don’t know if it was the distraction of standing directly in front of a woman who’d obviously gotten separated from her choir—she often veered off from the melody the rest of us were singing to provide counterpoint and harmony all by herself—or the way the service had so much going on that I never got into a contemplative mood. Christmas morning we had a big Christmas brunch and then opened presents before Mr. Karen and I had to get back on the road so I could be at work today. We got one more present on the road; the Indiana tollway now accepts I-Pass, so no more digging for change when we take that route through Chicago.


One year ago today, I wore a lot of blue and finished a sort of red scarf.

Two years ago, the Vikings did not make the playoffs.

Three years ago, I made a gift quilt.

Four years ago, I added to my fabric stash.

Five years ago, I clarified my recent whereabouts.

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