Mystery House


Hear that?  Okay, yeah, there’s a rather odd thunderstorm carrying on outside as if that’s proper late-November weather behavior in the upper midwest, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  It’s quiet in the Mystery House!

The houseguests toddled off to catch their plane at 4:30 a.m., the Master Engineer is at the office, and there’s nooooobody here ‘cept me and Dr. Evil.  The Master Engineer, I miss.  But six days is enough for even the best houseguests, and I’m ready to be back to regular business, at least for a couple of weeks until the next wave of guests arrives.

But they were quite well-behaved and not much trouble, and we had quite a lot of fun.  M.E.’s mother (henceforth the Pink Rider) and father (the Light King) arrived Wednesday afternoon bearing gifts and early Christmas cheer.

The biggest, most lush poinsettia I’ve ever seen.  I swear, this thing is nearly three feet across.

I see a big bowl of ambrosia in our future:  oranges and starfruit from their very own trees.  Yes, they hail from Florida, and it’s all our good fortune that last year’s very bad hurricanes left some of their fruit trees intact.  They also brought a big bag of green beans picked the day before, which I can’t photograph because they were so damn good we practically inhaled them and not a crumb of a bean is left.  Supermarket beans can’t even pretend to be this yummy.

Thanksgiving dinner was decadent and delightful and we were so full we had to save the sweet potato tart for breakfast the next day.  After the last lick of whipped cream had disappeared, an idle comment on my part (“The bushes in front of the house might look nice with a few lights–we should do that one of these years”) led to an immediate family outing to Menard’s.

Why do I call my FIL the Light King?  He’s a master at Christmas lights, and strings so many around their Florida home that you can probably see it from the space shuttle.  I’ve heard tell that his rendition of a Christmas tree is so bright you can’t look directly at it without searing your retinas.  So my desire for one or two weenie little strings of lights?  Uh uh.  Light King wasn’t having it.

Menard’s was slammed.  Every shopping cart taken.  (Um, duh–shopping the day after Thanksgiving?  What were we thinking?)  We piled our arms with box after box of tiny blue lights.  The Master Engineer and I were skeptical.  This was way too many lights.  And then the cords.  And timers.  And splitters and outlet posts.  It was nuts!

A couple of hours later, it was gorgeous.  Where we’d thought two strings of lights should be sufficient, the Light King insisted on eight.  He was right.  I can’t take a picture now because it’s pouring rain and too bright outside for the lights to be on, but I’ll try to post one later.  When it finally does snow, the blue glow should really be pretty.

Saturday was tree cutting day.  A bit early for us, but that’s what the folks wanted to do.  I must say we found a nice one, after quite a long time stomping around the tree farm saying, “No, not that one.  No, not quite.”  Instead of freezing cold and snow, this year we had to contend with burrs.  Bazillions of them which were only too happy to attach themselves to our pants legs.

While the guys got the tree installed in its new home and strung lights (thank goodness, only with the reasonable number of strands we already had!), the Pink Rider and I went to get Chinese takeout.  We were a bit too enthusiastic.  Boneless spareribs, steamed dumplings, fried rice, lo mein, shrimp in lobster sauce, chicken Szechuan, beef with broccoli, egg fu yung.  And one egg roll for the Master Engineer, because he asked.  For four people.  Who already had a refrigerator crammed with Thanksgiving leftovers.  What were we thinking?

Another tree on Sunday, a wonderful early Christmas gift from the folks to me.  I was thrilled to find this when we went junking:

I’ve wanted one for years.  All right, I’m lying.  I’ve wanted to start a collection of these for years.  One will not be the end of it.  Clearly, silver must be the theme for this year’s Christmas table in honor of this tree.

Dinner after our junking junket was at the Space Alien Grill.

What a hoot!  We’d seen this new, currently small chain while driving through North Dakota last month, but couldn’t stop at the time.  I have something of an obsession with the alien image and the culture that’s developed around it, and this place was irresistible.  Very funky alien pictures and objets everywhere, which have got ideas cooking in my artistic laboratory.  Lo and behold, the house specialty is ribs.  We ordered big sampler plates (not bad, respectable ribs, but the M.E.’s BBQ chicken murders theirs) and of course couldn’t eat all of it so we…took the leftovers home.  To the fridge.

What were we thinking?

I’m thinking I’m not cooking again until all this is gone.  Last night was turkey hash, with onions and potatoes and bell peppers, with a side of roasted, inferior supermarket beans.  That disposed of the rest of the turkey.  But obviously there’s still work to do, since I took this picture only this morning.

I’m thinking a few extra walks are in order, to counteract all this eating.  And knitting.  I had almost no time to knit during this week of debauchery, and only finished a few rows of a scarf.  Must remedy that, and quickly.  Christmas is on the way!


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