Tag Archives: holiday

Good Christmas season and a nice family visit

Mrs. Poolman and I spent most of the past two weeks lounging around and doing not much of anything. Mrs. P worked for two days the first of Christmas week and then again on Jan 1-2. In between, we had a great holiday, and then a three-day visit to see my middle-sister, Maggie, and her family at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson, S.C. We didn’t do any floating in the lake on this visit, but one afternoon, the clouds parted and it was nice enough to take a boat ride. So the nine of us piled into the neighbor’s pontoon boat for a winter afternoon’s boat cruise. Very nice.

The view from the back deck.

The view from the back deck.

My niece with her "child," Norman the Basset.

My niece with her “child,” Norman the Basset.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister with the center of attention.

Sister with the center of attention.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

A quiet, but enjoyable Christmas

Happy Boxing Day, as they might say in the UK!

We had a simple and quiet Christmas here at Casa Poolman. I am about half way through a week-and-a-half long holiday break. Within the University System, we bunch several holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and close down the institute for a week. I added a couple of  vacation days to that run, so I will have off from the Saturday before Christmas through New Year’s Day. I love it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Poolman is not so lucky. This was the year she was scheduled to work 12-hour shifts both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It stinks, but what can you do?

I spent the first half of Tuesday putzin’ around and taking care of last-minute Christmas preps. My CCD class provided the readers for a short Christmas Pageant during the 4 o’clock Mass. Everyone we were expecting showed up, and more-or-less on time. Yea! Last year, we had one child who missed all but one practice, but we agreed to let him participate after his mother called up and practically begged us to do so. Then “mom” failed to deliver him on time. We rearranged the readers to cover his slot, but he came running up just as we were walking into church for the start of Mass. I don’t blame the child, but the mom taught us a lesson we won’t forget.

No such drama this year. Our students all did great. After constant encouragement, they all read loud enough that the congregation could actually here them. Yea again!

Our reader team.

Our reader team.

Mrs. P got home around 8 o’clock and we split a pizza for dinner. Very fancy.

On Christmas morning, I got up and drove about 45 minutes out in the country to my daughter’s in-laws. Brad and Annie are great. It was very nice of them to invite me out for Christmas brunch. Writer Princess is very lucky (and so are we) that she has such a great set of in-laws. They a house on several acres out in the boonies. Annie has taken to raising livestock. She has turkeys, chickens, “runner ducks,” guinea fowl and goats. The highlight of yesterday’s visit were two week-old baby goats.  Very cute!

"Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!

“Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!”

Inquisitive goat.

“So what did you get for me?”

Back home in the early afternoon and started preps for dinner. I planned on a boneless rib-eye roast, twice-baked potatoes, green bean bundles and creamed pearl onions (Mrs. P’s creation ahead of time.) Everything went well, even the green-bean bundles, which were a little more effort than I originally planned.

Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm and I handed her a vodka and tonic. The rest of our dinner guests included son, girlfriend, daughter, son-in-law, and son-in-law’s brother. I planned to take a picture of the meal, but, frankly, I was so wrapped up in getting it all together when it was time to serve, I just forgot.

Some friends/neighbors walked down as we were finishing dinner. We all gathered in the family room to open presents and visit.

Gathered around

Gathered around

...visiting.

…visiting.

I wish Mrs. P had been around for more of the activities, but given the circumstances, it was a pretty nice holiday.

Another nice Christmas music video

I guess we’re on a music-video-roll this week. After I posted the Spanish Beethoven video yesterday, one of my former bosses sent me a Youtube link to this piece. This is clearly not a flash mob. It is a very well produced Christmas video created, apparently, for T-Mobile for their employees. I showed it to Mrs. Poolman last night and she loved it. So here you go:

 

 

An absent-minded priest and a moist turkey

We’re in the middle of a very nice four-day Thanksgiving weekend, at least for me, that is. This is Mrs. Poolman’s year to work the Thanksgiving holiday and to be off for Christmas. She was at the hospital  on Thursday and today (Saturday.)

With Mrs. P taking care of babies and both our children doing the day-side of the holiday with their husband’s and girlfriend’s families, I had a quiet day to myself.  I went to 9 o’clock Mass where I was scheduled to lector. That is usually an adventure, especially when Monsignor C is celebrating. I really like the Monsignor. He is a 70+ year old Irishman with a dry sense of humor. We get along very well. However, he tends to change things and not tell the other members of his team. On Thursday, we couldn’t find any copy of a “Prayers of the Faithful” for that date. When I asked Monsignor about it, he said, “Oh, they are in a special booklet. I’ll have to give them to you at the altar.”

Oh, great, that meant a “cold read.” That’s not usually a problem unless there are some difficult names in the petitions for the deceased, sick, etc. Then Monsignor decided to skip the Creed, which is normally my cue to go to the podium to read the Prayers. As it turned out, as I walked up to the altar, our other priest, Father John, met me half way and handed me the booklet. No problem, after all.

Actually, I have been doing the lectoring long enough that I can roll with the action pretty well. Just about everything that can go wrong has done so for me at one time or another. I do become a little concerned about some of our younger lectors, many of whom are some of my former CCD students who I have recruited and coached. They are significantly less confident about handling some of Monsignor’s curve-balls.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out, working on some photos from a friend’s daughter’s wedding I shot a couple of weeks ago and finishing preps for the Thanksgiving meal. My main responsibility was the turkey. At Mrs. P’s suggestion, I tried a radically different roasting technique. I have cooked holiday turkeys more times than I can count. Usually, I roast it covered with foil at 325 for about 4-5 hours,, uncovering for the last hour and periodically basting. I may never do that again. Here is a great method that produced a fantastic, very moist bird.

1. Prepare the bird as usual, seasoning it and placing an apple, celery and a bay leaf in the cavity.

2. Place in a covered roasting pan and put it into a cold oven.

3. Turn the oven to 450 degrees and when it pre-heats to that temperature (about 15 minutes) set your timer for one hour.

4. When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and just let it sit for five hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!

I was a skeptic. I didn’t think it would work, but it sure did. Our turkey was a little over 15 pounds. You might need to adjust a little for a larger bird. I really don’t know. The key was the white meat was very moist, which I can’t say is always the case with my more traditional roasting technique.

Another advantage of this technique is that it would work very well to cook overnight.

The rest of the family came over in the evening and Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm. So our holiday dinner was at 8:30 pm, but it was a great one anyway.

Monday blues on Thursday

We’re back to work today after the Fourth of July holiday. I’ve heard a number of conversations about the mid-week holiday.  Most would prefer the three-day weekend, but it’s one of those half-empty, half full comparisons.

I mentioned to a friend that now we have just a “two-day work week.”

“Yeah, but it also means this week has two Mondays!”

But it also has two “Fridays.” That’s good, isn’t it?

“One Day”

We had a slow weekend, followed by an even slower Martin Luther King holiday. Mrs. Poolman had to work Monday, but I had the day off.  I have to say that as much as I love my wife, and enjoy doing things with her, it is occasionally nice to have a day just to myself.  I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it. I get lonely and bored too easily, but a single-day now and then is nice.

I spent it mostly being a house-husband. I did several loads of wash; cleaned up around the house; went grocery shopping and so on. I have such an exciting life.

I finished up by watching a movie we had rented over the weekend, “One Day,” with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.  I had read the book last summer and thought it was OK. The book “checks in” on a couple on the same day every year from the day they graduated from college and for another two decades. The movie sticks with the book very closely. The biggest problem with the story is that the guy, Dexter, is an arrogant, self-involved ass. As the couple gets together, breaks up, becomes friends, breaks up again, and so on, it is very difficult to understand what the Anne Hathaway character, Emma, sees in him.

That having been said, the movie is a refreshing break from the teen-oriented movies and the standard boy-meets-girl formula flicks that are so common. I’m glad I didn’t spend $20 to take Mrs. P to the theater to see it, but it is definitely worth a couple of bucks from Blockbuster Express or Redbox.

If you see it, tell me what you think.

The book and the movie have something of surprise ending. Since I had read the book I knew it was coming, but it still sat me back. No other information. Don’t want to spoil it.

Children, movies and a holiday week coming to an end

The rest of our holiday-vacation week has gone fairly well. Mrs. Poolman and I have been kept busy entertaining an easily bored, and somewhat difficult-to-please 11-year old.

On Thursday, we visited the Georgia Railroad Museum (aka: The Roundhouse Museum.)

The turntable at the Georgia Railroad Museum

A friend of ours is the curator there and we thought it would be a good outing. I enjoyed it. Mrs. P was neutral. Christine the Younger liked the short train ride, although the complained about being uncomfortable in the tight seat most of the time. Sigh.

After the train museum, we took her to a movie, “We Bought a Zoo!” The movie wasn’t at all what I expected. Instead of a silly, children’s comedy (Think Kevin James.), it was a pretty decent flick, based on a true story. At times, the movie had a few too many story lines running simultaneously, but I would still give it a strong recommendation, especially for someone looking for a PG rating for kids and “tweens.”

Actually, the evening before, we rented another movie that turned out better than expected – “Letters to Juliet.” It was a cute, feel-good movie that was entertaining. It won’t be up for any Academy Awards, but it was certainly worth the $2 rental fee. I was the only one in our group who picked up on the reunion of Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero as the older-generation, reunited lovers. The pair played Guinevere and Lancelot in the 1967 film production of “Camelot.” The movie was just the beginning; their relationship continued beyond the ending credits.

Note: After having a son, the pair went their separate ways. Years later, Redgrave and Nero reunited personally and were married in 2006.

Redgrave and Nero in "Camelot."

Writer Princess joined us for a dinner of homemade lasagna (my sauce, Mrs. P’s “construction.”) Son-in-Law was fighting a bad cold, so he stayed home. (Thank you!)

Friday was scheduled to be our last day with young Christine. It was a gorgeous day, so we headed out to the beach. Obviously, it was too cold to go in the water, but it was a nice day for a walk on the sand.

Tybee Island beach, December 30, 2011

Both our children, SIL and Poolboy’s girlfriend were heading to Jacksonville Friday evening, to spend the New Year’s weekend with their cousins. That worked out well. They were able to give Christine a ride back home.

All told, it was an interesting week, but we’re glad to have our house back.

We’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve. Our neighbors have invited us and a few other folks for game-night evening. We may make it until midnight, but I’m not taking any bets. In any case, it’s just a two-house walk home. I don’t think we’ll get into any serious trouble.

Happy New Year!

A quiet Christmas at Casa Poolman

Christmas 2011 is a quiet one here at Casa Poolman. Mrs. P is working back-to-back 12-hour shifts in neonatal ICU both Christmas Eve and Christmas, so we are taking things low key.

I spent Christmas Eve taking care of some chores around the house, and then ushered at 4 o’clock mass. I am amazed each year at the number of people who show up for a Christmas mass five minutes before the start-time and are surprised there aren’t any seats available. Hello, people! If you aren’t at least a half-hour early, you are late.

As expected, our 4 pm Mass was standing-room-only, and barely that.

After Mass, I dropped off some cookies and brownies to several neighbors and friends and stopped by a traditional Christmas Even open-house at an old friend’s house. I got home shortly after Mrs. P, so I could hang with her for awhile before she had to “crash.”

Tomorrow, I’ll be “hanging out” and then preparing a Christmas dinner, with the plan to have it ready shortly after Mrs. P arrives home around 7:30 pm. Poolboy, Girl Friend, Writer Princess and Son-in-Law should be joining us then.

The menu will be a rib roast, twice-baked potatoes (courtesy of Mrs. P), saute’d green beans and Caesar salad. I hope that satisfies. If not, well, too bad.

Both Mrs. P and I are off work all of next week. Actually, it should be interesting. Our niece, Kristine, will be spending the week with us. She is 11 years old and lives in Jacksonville. It seems that all the adults in her circle are orking next week, and they have no other child-care arrangements. Mrs. P and I thought it would be great for her to come spend at least some of the week with us. We haven’t had an 11-year-old around our house for more than a short visit in a long time. Should be interesting. We are meeting Mrs. P’s sister (another of Christine’s great-aunts) and brother-in-law in Brunswick for lunch on Monday and exchanging the child. Seriously, though, we’re looking forward to it.

And finally, I am a sucker for a good flash-mob. One of my former bosses, sent me this one with a Christmas theme. The camera work is nothing to brag about, but it is a fun little video. Enjoy. Merry Christmas from Casa Poolman!

Family, food and football — a very nice Thanksgiving weekend!

It’s Sunday evening of the Thanksgiving weekend, and Mrs. Poolman and I are just “chillin.’”

We had a very nice weekend. My sister, brother in law and recent-law-school-grad nephew came down from Greenville, South Carolina for the weekend, and we all had a great time.  Maggie is the middle of my three younger sisters, and the only of my sibs within a reasonable driving distance.

Mrs. P and I both took Wednesday off to shop, clean and generally get ready for the weekend. Company arrived on Thursday. Both our children and their significant others came over and contributed to the feast. We spent the day “visiting” and watching a little football. Dinner was all the usual – turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, etc. Son-in-law made the pies. Poolboy contributed about 20 pounds of mashed potatoes. Yummy!

We have two adult children, both of whom also have other family commitments. It’s interesting that we have absolutely no problem coordinating holiday schedules with one of the families. With the other, it’s nearly impossible. Every holiday becomes a minor drama. I think the major issue is the other family cannot organize their own lives, which makes it impossible to coordinate with someone else.  A while back, we got frustrated with the whole deal. Now, we stake out our meal time and plans well in advance and just let it be known, so they can work around it, or not, as they will.

On Friday, we drove downtown and walked around River Street and the historic district.

The World War II memorial in Savannah's River Street

We stopped into one antique-salvage-junk store. My sister and both bought an interesting looking old window frame.

We'll see what I can do with this.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I may print up some individual family photographs and mount them behind the glass in each frame. I’m not a really “craftsy” person, so we’ll have to see how it turns out.

For Friday dinner, we cooked a low country boil (shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn.) It broke up the non-stop turkey and turkey and ham sandwiches.

On Saturday, we watched football from lunch time to bed time. In our group, we had alums of Penn State, South Carolina and, of course, Florida. We were one for three on the day. How the Gators held FSU to less than 100 yards of total offense, and still managed to lose by two touchdowns is just amazing.

The Steelers are on Sunday Night Football. Maybe they will bring our weekend effort up to .500.

Back to work tomorrow. It hasn’t been the most exciting of weekends, but it was a very good one all the same.

Back to normal

I haven’t posted in a week, but I really haven’t had much to write about. After spending two weeks gallivanting around Europe, everyday life seems very pale by comparison.

Actually, I am really very glad to be back to normal life. I am a home-body at heart. I missed Mrs. Poolman. I even missed our pets.

It seems I spent the first week home just recovering from two weeks of travel and catching up. I really didn’t have any jet lag to speak of. I got a good night’s sleep my first night at home, and that was all it took.

Savannah was at “high spring” when I returned. That means lovely weather and tons of biomass in my yard. This week it was oak seed pods, or “fuzzy-wuzzies” as we call them. Apparently their assigned role in the great scheme of the universe is to clog up the skimmer basket in our pool. They do their job well.

Fuzzy Wuzzies in the skimmer basket.

Mrs. P and I spent both weekend days working around the yard, cleaning the pool, etc. Much of that biomass is now in bags at the curb. There is also some fresh topsoil over one of the sandy patches in the front yard.Saturday evening, we grilled some steaks and rented a movie – “Love and Other Drugs,” with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. It was a pretty good movie, with a slightly different slant on the boy-meets-girl. romantic comedy formula. Plus, Anne Hathaway spends about half the movie in the buff, which was just an added benefit from my standpoint. On Sunday, I went to return the DVD to Blockbuster Express, only to find that all THREE of the kiosks closest to our house were out of order. What’s that all about? I sent the company an email, so they wouldn’t charge me for an extra day. Not that $1 is going to break the bank, but it’s the principal of the thing. I should not have to pay a fine for their broken machine. I don’t anticipate a problem. (Late note: All is cool. No late fine.)

We had our last CCD class of the year last Wednesday. In some past years, I really regretted the end of the year, but not this year. We had some really great kids in the class, but the hyper-active attention seekers made it a difficult group as a whole.

A regular work-week is ahead this week. Mrs. P is working next weekend (Easter), so I’ll have the holiday duty. For the foreseeable future, there will be a lot more of that kind of weekend. The hospital where Mrs. P works has eliminated its “weekend program” and has placed all the nurses on an “every third weekend” rotation. Mrs. P isn’t happy about it, and neither am I, but there isn’t much we can do about it.