It's 2008. It's cold outside (7 degrees now, low of 3). And the New Year's project (housecleaning and sorting/disposal for things we no longer need) is almost done.
But first, a thank you to those of you who have read the blog (Lauren's friends from CalorieKing, Anne in Colorado, Martha in Phoenix, the Larcoms, and also the Knoll's (Linda and JT)) and who have sent cards or e-mails and left condolences. It was a very stressful, very bittersweet holiday for both Cheshirekitty and myself due to her mom's passing, but in retrospect, there were some small blessings in that her mom didn't suffer very long and that remembering her brought a small miracle to the family: an estranged family member (a sister's son who hadn't talked to his parents in 13 years), came to the memorial service on Thursday evening. We hope that it's the start of a reconciliation for them.
Despite the loss, we did still manage to have a little bit of Christmas while we were in Illinois. After leaving early on Friday to beat the oncoming winter storm (and driving through heavy fog until the last 30 miles of the trip), we made it to the bed and breakfast we were staying at, the Brightwood Inn, in Utica, IL. While there, we enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts, John (Jack) and Jo Ryan, and quite possibly some of the best breakfasts we've had in awhile, including a sublime herb-laced cheese omelet, a breakfast casserole, and a breakfast strata, all accompanied by fresh bacon or sausage, juices, pumpkin bread or scratch coffeecake, as well as grapefruit and chilled fruit salads. They also kept the cookie jar in the library well-stocked with Christmas cookies, too. We're hoping to stay there again for the holidays next year as well (if anything, we like the instant comfort of gas fireplaces, and maybe next year, we'll be able to afford a room with a hot tub).
Christmas Day we spent with the family at the house in Marseilles, where we swapped presents, snacked on breads (more pumpkin loaf plus a scratch gingerbread loaf we had bought from an organic-themed bakery-goods shop in Utica), and drank some of Dad's very good plum wine. Cheshirekitty got a very nice cat-themed photolocket from me and a powered wine de-corker (as well as the copy of the Heroes hardcover comic which I let her open early), as well as a power drill (her old one had died back in October), a set of serving dishes, a "fat" cat penny bank, and a set of "caroling kitties". Meanwhile, I got a nice knife sharpener, as well as Dr. Who (NuWho) Series 1 on DVD, which we've been wanting for awhile now. I also got the special (pre-edited and enhanced) versions of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which completes our collection there.
But on to New Years: Cheshirekitty has this little thing called "project obsession". When she wants to do something or get something done, she will keep working until it is done. This usually manifests itself as a New Year's project. Last year's project was building and installing a closet insert, so we would have more room to hang and store clothes. This year's project involved the purchase of a new, larger clothes dresser armoire (made possible by a very good sale at the local furniture store), the purchase and installation of a hanging jewelry armoire, the removal of furniture no longer needed (the old dresser and old standing jewelry armoire), and the disposition of a bunch of old clothes and items no longer needed.
Afterward, we headed out to A&G for dinner, and then settled in to await the New Year accompanied by Irish Coffee, chips and cheese dip to snack on, and a NYE toast over a little more Adam Puchta port which we purchased while on our honeymoon.