I’ll blame Gus the cat for my slowness in getting into any kind of Christmas spirit this year. A few weeks after his pretty speed recovery from the injury above his eye, he suddenly come down with something… He stopped eating, grooming, or doing anything other than shuffling uncomfortably from one sleeping spot to another. It was a weekend, and the vet was open only for supplies, not medical appointments. They suggested taking Gus to the emergency veterinary hospital.
There he got tested for everything imaginable. He had some neurological symptoms—asymmetrical eye pupils, inconsistent results on the “knuckling” test—and few slightly abnormal results on the blood test. Could be infection, could be tumors… He was admitted and hydrated, appetite stimulated, given pain killers, and started on antibiotics. I went home to fret.
Gus responded quite well to the various ministrations, though, and we were able to take him home the next day. He seemed pretty good from that point, though lower energy, and with the uneven pupils persisting a while. We continued the antibiotics for seven days, and a few days later, the eyes improved, the energy back. I brought him in for a final check from our vet, who found that all seemed good, except for the eye on the injured side looking a little irritated.
So she suggested a week of twice daily eye drops. Gus was much better about letting us give him those than we expected. What seemed much more upsetting to him was if we had to chase him down first; he’d sometimes hide for hours afterwards. So we took to surprising him with eye drops. Those done, he continued to seem quite fine.
And I finally had some brain space for Christmas.
Mind you, not all “pre-Christmas” events could be put on hold until my cat was better. Like, my December trip to Timmins.
In November, my older sister and I got to discussing what to do about Christmas. In my case, Jean didn’t have time off (besides the stat holidays) and wasn’t planning to attempt any travel. But he said he didn’t mind if I went. My sister hadn’t been to Timmins since… 2018, maybe? Long time, anyway!
But both of us felt kind of stressed about travelling right at Christmas time. Always so crowded! Always the risk of bad weather!
So we got to thinking: How about we go there an earlier weekend in December? Handily, both my Dad and my brother have birthdays then.
And so we did. It was a quickie, arriving the morning of December 9 and leaving the afternoon of December 11. But the flights were pretty reasonably priced; the weather was good in both cities; the airport was somewhat crowded on the Toronto side, but lines moved quickly (we were pretty rusty with the details of security requirements); and all flights were on time.
It was a great visit. We had a birthday celebration dinner on the Friday with everyone except my sister-in-law, who was under the weather. My brother and niece came over a few other times on the weekend. My uncle visited with us on the Sunday. I was neglectful in taking pictures of any of these reunions, so they must just live in my memory (and this blog post).
My work did have an in-person Christmas gathering this year, at a bowling alley, but I did not attend. Jean’s work did not have a big gathering, but he did a few Christmas lunches, all of which made me nervous, but he didn’t catch cooties at any of them.
My book club friends and I did a “Chef at Home” dinner for this year’s Christmas celebration. Using the Take a Chef website, I put in the date we were looking at, number of people, and type of meal (with budget). Then various chefs proposed four-course menus they could come to my house and prepare for us. I shared the options with my friends, we picked the one that on balance appealed the most to us all, and we booked that chef.
It was an interesting experience! Kind of weird having someone else take over your kitchen, but nice having people over and not worrying about preparing food yourself. And the meal was very good, and she did a great job of accommodating dietary restrictions. We had:
- Sea scallops in garlic butter
- Grilled Chilean seabass and risotto
- Lava cake
Along with a fun evening and good conversation.
The KW Symphony was able to do their Yuletide Spectacular concert in person for the first time since 2019, and we were there! It was the first time that Andrei Feher conducted it. Where previous years often had a large segment built around a film or story, this year’s was really focused on the music. The Carousel Dance company participated in quite a few numbers, including excerpts from The Nutcracker. The Grand Philharmonic Choir and its Children’s Choir were also featured a number of times.
Two actors hosted, and while they were fine, the script they were working with was sometimes just—overly hokey. But that was the only downside to a lovely evening out.
Everyone in US / Canada is aware that a big storm came in on December 23, that was still pretty bad on December 24, and continued to not be great in some places on December 25. This indeed made my older sister and I quite happy we had travelled earlier in the month. That said, my younger sister and her family were successful in flying to Timmins on the morning of December 23. And the weather was generally better up there.
Here, it was really quite miserable those two days, though not near as bad for us as for many others. We didn’t even lose power or Internet. So we were able to hunker down with some Christmas movies.
Since being off work for Christmas holidays, I feel as though I’ve done an awful lot of cooking! Normally I intersperse some Christmas meals throughout the month of December, but since this year I didn’t feel too Christmas-y til mid-month, I’ve just been packing in what I can in a few days, I guess.
I made my one tourtiere on Friday (using all ground bison, this year). Super filling, but quite good! On Saturday I made the Christmas dinner pie ahead of time: Ginger spice cranberry apple streusel pie. Tip I learned for perfect crust: Weigh the flour, don’t measure it. Only way to get the correct amount. Terrific crust. (Rest of the pie pretty good, too.)
Sunday, we did have the family Zoom for the gift exchange. We were rudely cut off due to not being paid members, but not before everyone managed to open their gift. Fun to see everyone, even if virtual.
Then, more cooking. We actually had one friend coming over for dinner, so I maybe stepped it up a bit. This was the menu:
- Slow-Roasted Duck with Sage, Ginger and Rhubarb Sauce: I used cranberries instead of rhubarb, and unfortunately couldn’t find fresh sage. Otherwise I pretty much followed this. It turned out well, though probably didn’t need quite as much cooking as this said (but it wasn’t dry). And I don’t think the ginger and cranberry topping at the end was really needed, though it looked nice.
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream: I skipped the chives, but did the rest. Really good!
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with walnuts and dates: Yummy
- Turnip souffle: Something Mom and Dad often made at Christmas, but first time I did. Turned out well.
Weather’s been a little better the last couple days, so we were able to get out, including for the first snowshoe of the year.
New Year’s Eve? No plans yet! Guess we’ll come up with something.