Archive for December, 2009


December 27, 2009

We have had an absolutely delightful Christmas. Theo came down to visit us for a couple of days at Heather House, where we had a Finnish-style Christmas: celebrating on the 24th with a big dinner in the evening followed by presents. We made ham with fruit sauce, carrot casserole, rutabaga casserole, mashed potatoes, and cucumber salad. Theo was a huge help in the kitchen.

During the day the three of us played World of Warcraft and watched some Doctor Who. In the evening, after dinner, presents, and more Who, E. and Theo kindly helped me playtest the prototype of a new game. This game was inspired by Munchkin, but designed to be cooperative rather than competitive. I enjoy playing games, but I’m not a competitive person and its hard to find games where players work together rather than against each other. We had fun and the play gave me some very useful ideas for changes to the game.

On Christmas morning, the three of us had breakfast together, then we set out. Theo headed home and E. and I set out for Raymond to spend a few days with my family. The weather was clear and there wasn’t much traffic on the roads, so we made good time to Maine and arrived in Raymond a little after noon. Kristin and Daniel were both there, as was my grandmother along with my parents. We gathered around the tree while E. and I opened more presents and gave out ours to the family. Then we sat down to Christmas dinner together.

In the evening, we broke out one of our new presents: Settlers of Catan from Daniel. Kris, Dan, E. and I sat down together and played a game (which I quite unexpectedly won).


Let it snow!

December 23, 2009

We woke up on Sunday morning to falling snow as the storm that had been coming up the east coast reached us. We didn’t get nearly as much snow out of it as farther south (6-8 inches for us), but it was beautiful to watch and a nice treat for Christmastime. In the afternoon, after the snow stopped falling, I went out to start shoveling the driveway. I did maybe a third that day, then on Monday E. helped me do the rest.

We spent much of Tuesday getting ready for Christmas– wrapping up presents and cooking in advance for our Christmas dinner on Thursday (we’re celebrating Finnish style with dinner and presents on Christmas Eve before heading up to Maine of Christmas morning to be with my family). This evening we’re expecting Theo, who will spend a couple days with us.

Our first Christmas in Heather House has been a wonderful one so far. Lots of good food, good company, and relaxation.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

December 14, 2009

The first Christmas tree in Heather House!

Oi kuusipuu, oi kuusipuu

We headed out this morning right after breakfast into a beautiful sunny day to go and get our Christmas tree. There are no spruce or fir trees growing in our woods out back, so we couldn’t take the usual Jensen approach of cutting one off our own land. We went to check out a local tree farm, but they had a big sign up saying “Closed for the season.” We were rather shocked, but I guess they’ve sold out their crop for the year already. So we went a little further to our local nursery which has cut trees in stock and picked one that we liked. We tied it to the roof of my car and drove it home.

It is now standing, cheerfully decorated, in the corner of our living room. Over the past few days we’ve been doing a “joulusiivous” or Christmas cleaning of the whole house. It took a lot of work, but it’s satisfying to have a nicely cleaned house to put up our tree in.

In other news, we had lobster for dinner tonight. E. and I have an arrangement whereby whenever one of us performs certain specified chores of housework we earn points. When either of us gets to 100 points, we earn a reward, and my reward is lobster. I earned this particular back at the end of the summer, but with the busy semester we haven’t gotten around to it. This afternoon, once we had the tree up and decorated, I went out to do a little grocery shopping and picked up a couple of lobsters on the way, one for me and one for E. They were pretty big, certainly the biggest lobster I’ve ever eaten, and so very delicious to eat.


December 13, 2009

I’ve been hearing fire sirens off and on in the distance for about the past hour.  I wonder what could be going on?  I do hope that no one is badly hurt, but it whatever it may be it certainly sounds big and serious.

Out of the mouths of students

December 11, 2009

One delightful line from a student’s paper (concerning the Aztecs and their use of human sacrifice as a means of intimidating their enemies):

“Nothing says ‘Obey me’ like a severed head on a stick.”

In other news, I got two messages from a student.  The first was titled: “Abstances.”  The second: “Oops – meant to say Abesnts.”

Whose woods these are, I think I know…

December 10, 2009

Our back yard and woods in snow

On Wednesday this week we woke up to a furious snowstorm.  The picture doesn’t show it, but it was hard to see outside for the blowing of the snow.  I checked to see if SSC might have canceled classes for the day, but they hadn’t, and I didn’t want to have to cancel my own classes if I didn’t have to, so I started driving early and slowly.  I had to stop near the turn of Heather Rd. to clear a fallen tree limb out of the way.  There was fortunately very little traffic on the road, so I was able to drive as cautiously as I felt like.   The highway had seen some plowing and sanding and was in slightly better shape than the local roads, but no one was moving faster than around 35.  Then, about halfway to Salem, I passed through a very clear rain/snow line and within a few minutes I was on wet but clear roads without any sign of snow.  In Salem it was raining hard, but there was no white to be seen.  When I headed north again in the evening the precipitation had stopped and the roads had all been well cleared, but I once again drove across a clear line into snowy ground.  I suppose a lot of it has to do with proximity to the coast, some to north-south difference, a good deal to the dynamics of that particular storm and maybe some to the heat-sinking effects of the greater Boston metropolitan area, but it was a curious thing to observe in the field.

New Haven

December 9, 2009

This past weekend we made a trip down to New Haven to visit our friends Miti and Stephen. I had to teach on Friday and we wanted to leave as soon as I was done, but driving up to Georgetown only to turn around and head back down 95 would have been a waste of a good couple hours, so E. drove with me to campus in the morning, took the car home, then came down to pick me up after classes.

We had fairly good driving down to New Haven. We spent a fair part of the way singing Christmas carols and getting in the spirit of the season. There were a good many lyrics we couldn’t remember, so some of our singing went like: “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king! Peace on earth and something something, something something something something!” We also decided that too many of the good songs have religious lyrics and somebody really ought to do something about that, darn Christians messing up a perfectly good holiday, grumble mutter gripe…

It was wonderful to see Miti and Stephen, as always. They welcomed us with good food and then we settled down for the night on their futon.

The next day was cold and rainy, but we went out for a walk by the seashore nonetheless and it was good to have a little exercise. E. suddenly started feeling faint, however, so we went back to get warmed up and have a bite of lunch. In the evening, after a delicious Indian dinner courtesy of Stephen, we went to see a very funny play, “Sister’s Christmas Catechism,” in which the Sister, with the help of audience members who make a living nativity scene complete with costumes and props, solves the mystery of what happened to the Magi’s gold.

E. had to be home to go to work on Sunday evening, so we had to head out right after lunch. The previous day’s rain had turned into a light dusting of snow. As we drove north, we found the snow getting more and more substantial. In Georgetown we had a couple of inches on the ground, although it was warm enough to melted off most of the driveway.

It’s beginning to look a lot like… April??

December 3, 2009

The weather today was unbelievable. When we first woke up in the morning it was pouring rain and blowing hard. Then the rain cleared away, the sun came out, and the temperature shot up to 65 degrees (18 C)! E. and I walked into town to do some small grocery shopping. E. kept peeling off layers as we walked and I was stripped down to a t-shirt before we made it home. The wind was still high, but that hardly mattered. If I had been walking hard, I would have needed a shower when I got home.

Oh, and they’re predicting snow for the weekend.

Our answering machine seems to have bit the dust and won’t record messages any more, so I suppose we’ll have to get a replacement for it. Maybe it got fed up with taking “beep beep beep!” calls from people trying to fax the metal shop that used to have our phone number for their fax line.

Next week will be the last week of classes for me. It’s hard to believe. This semester has gone by in a hurry. I’ve had some wonderful classes and lots of kids that I’m going to miss. I really changed the way I taught World History and I’m very pleased with the results. Next semester I get to teach another grad class. Last spring’s grad class was one of my best teaching experiences to date, so I’m very much looking forward to the spring.

Thanks given

December 2, 2009

E. and I made a short trip up to Maine for Thanksgiving. It was the first Thanksgiving we’ve had in the new house in Raymond, and considering that that meant lots of running around trying to remember where all the old traditional serving dishes and utensils were, everything went remarkably smoothly. Theo came up to have the holiday dinner with us, and we were also joined by one of Kristin’s old college friends and her s.o., although Kristin herself was not with us spending the holiday with her s.o.

And speaking of family and things to be thankful for, we have just heard that our nephew was born this past weekend. This is Olli and Tiina’s second child, and though we haven’t heard a name yet we are very happy to welcome him into the world.