Happy Christmas!

This evening (Christmas Eve Eve) I tried to start my baking with an apple pie for my neighbor and her family and – you guessed it – I needed something from the store! Grr! I could have sworn I had an entire roll of parchment paper (got to blind bake that crust to avoid a soggy bottom) but nope. What I thought was parchment paper was my silicone baking mat (for cookies).

Easy fix, right? Not exactly. I can’t drive at night. The problem with my right eye prevents that. Everything is a smeary mess of overlapping images. I thought I was going to fail the eye test at the DMV yesterday! I was squinting and moving my glasses around to try and bring those images into better focus. Miraculously, I got the right answers. So now that you know all that, you’ll know that even though the closest grocery store is only 1.1 miles away, it is to everyone’s benefit that I don’t try to drive there, through the center of town where there are generally quite a few pedestrians. Instead, I put in an Instacart order and am sitting here waiting for it. I put some George Jones on the Bluetooth speaker in the living room to keep me company. I feel really bad that someone else has to drive in this cold, but there is no precipitation here. The roads are clear and we all have power. I tip very well.

Soon enough, the order will be here and I can get to baking. I think for tonight, it will just be the pie. I want to get it to her tomorrow morning so that whenever she celebrates with her parents, she’ll have that pie. Her dad loves apple pie. He mows my grass and cleaned my gutters for me. He charges next to nothing, and he’s the salt of the earth. I want them to think of me and smile on Christmas. They’ve been so welcoming to me.

If you know me, you might be a little surprised at my musical choice tonight, but I’ve been watching George & Tammy (Showtime), starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon. Oh my gosh, it is so incredibly well done. Both actors learned to sing like the people they portray. It is based on the book, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George (Jones, 2013), and is a raw but tender look at the tumultuous relationship between George Jones and Tammy Wynette, written by their only child together. This isn’t my first listen to George Jones (and I’ll give some Tammy a turn on the speaker next). I grew up the child of a country-and-western guitarist who had similar demons to Jones and Wynette. This is all bringing up so many emotions for me.

Every Saturday, we watched all of the country music shows in the evening: Hee Haw, The Grand Ol’ Opry, Porter Wagoner, all of them. It was a time when my father was calm and focused. On any given night, he would play and sing in our living room, sitting on that old red couch we had with his tobacco sunburst Gibson, filling the room with his beautiful baritone voice. I loved my dad. I didn’t love him as much when he was angry or beating my mother or brothers or when he was cursing one of us out. That was the PTSD, I know now. He loved us, but he had such demons. He was a dry drunk who never was in a program or got any help for his issues. So all of this has just stirred up the complicated feelings I have about my childhood.

I miss my mom, too, especially when I’m in the kitchen. I always wanted to cook with her, but she never let me until she left my dad. He was so paranoid and suspicious about everything that she had to be very strict about food. When we left Dad, though, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen together. I miss that, and I miss her. She would love getting together with Sean and me for baking and breakfasts and stews, and just everything. We have fond memories of her.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I was supposed to be at my son’s house all day, baking cookies, but we’re postponing until Christmas Day. He has some houseguests tonight and tomorrow, and we don’t know if they’re vaccinated. I hate having to be so careful, almost 3 years into the pandemic, but there’s an upsurge in Covid and flu cases around here. In fact, I went to the pharmacy today and ended up in line behind a man who was having a lot of trouble with the card reader. The pharmacy tech had to help him several times, which was fine. I have had trouble with some card readers before, too. When he left, she held up a finger to me and said, “Hang on a minute.” She came back with paper towels and disinfectant. She cleaned the whole area before letting me approach.

“He doesn’t have Covid,” she said, “but his wife does, so he’s already been exposed and might already have it and not know it.”

I thanked her profusely for cleaning everything. I didn’t ask why she wasn’t wearing a mask, but I was. I still do, ‘most everywhere. Even so, I still sanitized my hands after my transaction and then when I got back to the car, where I have a big bottle of sanitizer in one of the cup holders. So yeah, I will meet Sean’s friends another time, after we get through this seasonal upsurge. I’m hoping they don’t have anything contagious, but I know Sean will clean everything with Clorox before I come over anyway. What a weird life we’re still living.

My Instacart order is now on the way, so I’ll sign off for the evening. Time to get cracking on peeling and chopping apples and blind baking that crust…as soon as the order gets here.

I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed holiday season with your favorite people and pets. I’m off work until after New Year’s Day, so I am relaxing and enjoying not having to worry about any of the stuff there. Thank God for leave!

Namaste, Jude

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About Me

A writer and solitary soul in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

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