Archive for December, 2010

A week of Christmas

December 26, 2010

We are having an oddly extended Christmas this year. First my friend Theo came down to spend a few days with us. It’s always wonderful to see him and we had a good time together. Since he was here with us, we opened some presents with him and had our Finnish Christmas dinner a day early. The next day, Christmas Eve, E. and I were alone. We had a sauna and a repeat of Christmas dinner, then opened our presents to each other. The next day, Christmas morning, we headed up to Maine have Christmas Day with my family. Kris was there and Daniel made it for a short visit as well. We had planned to stay in Maine for a couple of days, but a massive snowstorm is coming up the coast and about to hit Massachusetts. I spent Christmas Day evening and the next morning checking the weather forecasts every few hours and each time I looked, the total snowfall prediction kept creeping up by 4-6 inches. It’s now predicted to last from this evening until tomorrow evening and leave us with as much as two feet of snow. At first we thought we would just hang around in Maine for an extra day while the storm blew by, but as the snowfall prediction kept going up and up, we decided we had better head home early to get ahead of it. It was either dig our way out or dig our way in, and with so much snow predicted, we decided we’d rather be digging out. If we can get dug out, though, and the roads are clear, we mean to go back to Maine in a couple of days to spend a bit more time with family. In all, this is adding up to be the most drawn-out Christmas we’ve had, but that’s all right. I went into Christmastime this year feeling like I had too many things to do and not enough time to do them, so it’s quite nice to be able to enjoy Christmas and all the good things that come with it for a week or so.

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Tree

December 18, 2010

Yesterday we went out and came home with a Christmas tree. We don’t have any good spruces or firs growing on our land, so we couldn’t follow family tradition and go cut our own in the woods. We got ours instead from the local garden store. We can at least be proud that it was discounted for being lopsided.

Decoration in progress

Decoration done!

Duty done

December 14, 2010

Yesterday I had jury duty in Salem. I had to get up at 5:30 to give myself time to drive in through rush-hour traffic and find a parking spot, which was not pleasant but which I managed. There were about 80 of us in the day’s jury pool. We were gathered first in one of the courtrooms to check in and get initial instructions, then we were all ushered across the street into a church basement hall to wait. After about an hour, they called us back over to the courthouse to impanel a jury for a civil suit.

The courthouse is an older building from back in the days when municipal buildings were designed for beauty. It’s showing its age with worn out floors and small bits of damage that have clearly gone unrepaired for generations, but there are still some nice details. The front has stonework reminiscent of a Romanesque church and the courtrooms have wood paneling and lofty windows.

The civil case in question involved a loan made on security that may not have even existed. After some questions from the judge and private discussion among the judge and the lawyers, they impaneled twelve jurors and sent the rest of us back to the waiting room. It was all done very efficiently.

The bailiff told us that there was criminal case preparing that would need jurors later in the day, so we settled in to wait for that. After another couple of hours, though, he came back over to let us know that the criminal case had been settled with a plea and we were all free to go, our service done for another three years.

This experience in Salem was very different from my previous jury duty experiences in New York, which I suppose should be no surprise. In New York the various court officials treated us potential jurors like so many poorly-behaved children, for which I can’t blame them since that’s how a good many of my fellow jurors acted. In Salem, even though we went through the same basic routines, both officials and jurors behaved like reasonable human beings with good will and even a sense of humor. I think I’ve mostly recovered from my years in New York, but it is still nice now and then to be reminded of how different things are here.

Christmas is coming

December 1, 2010

We went grocery shopping yesterday to find that the store is already playing Christmas music. I shouldn’t be surprised, since in the retail world Christmas seems to start the moment the last plate is cleaned from Thanksgiving, but it still takes me by surprise every year. It’s a wonder we’re not sick of the whole thing by the time the actual holiday rolls around. But I still love Christmas and everything that comes with it– family and friends getting back in touch, bringing something green and fresh inside while the world outside is dying away, defying the oncoming darkness of winter with light and song.

We haven’t seen snow yet here in Georgetown, but the signs of winter’s approach are starting to appear. Only a few stubborn trees are still holding on to their leaves. The little puddle at the turn of Heather Road that was full of frogs in the summer has iced over, and a skim of ice is starting to creep over the lake from the shores. The days are getting shorter and darker, with the sun never climbing very high in the sky even at midday. Soon we’ll be thinking about getting a tree and setting up candles in the windows. I have a lot to get through between now and then– the end of classes, exams, grading, jury duty– but it’s good to have Christmas to look forward to.