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Christmas Miscellany

Baked falafel and Kalamata olive sauce
Baked falafel and Kalamata olive sauce

LAKE MACBRIDE— It has been a quiet Christmas holiday and that’s okay.

Our family has never been very big, even when nieces and nephews from both sides are considered. There are shirt-tail relatives, of course. If we connect the threads, that could include all of humanity, something that may be wondrous, but is not practical for a holiday gathering.

Our daughter came home for Christmas the weekend of Dec. 12, so the holiday decorations have been up since then. In past years we started decorating on our wedding anniversary, and continued until Christmas Eve. With decorating done early, there was one less thing to do on the actual holiday.

Christmas day I visited my mother and we talked for two and a half hours—more than we have in a long time. After that, I came home where there was not much action because of illness. I made baked falafel and Kalamata olive sauce for what turned out to be my Christmas dinner. Like with the quiet, I was okay with that. I took the first photos in my new project.

We don’t exchange gifts any longer, but I bought a couple of books which arrived Dec. 23. I’m halfway through Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. It will be a quick read and I won’t be buying any winter tomatoes in the foreseeable future. In queue is Selected Letters of Norman Mailer. Mailer was prolific, and the new tome already has been a valuable research tool on contemporary writers.

We went to the New Pioneer Food Cooperative in Coralville together. Going to NewPi is a couple of times a year trip for me. I placed some rolls from the bakery, vegan sausage for gumbo, and some fair trade organic cocoa mix in the wagon. I can’t help but price compare with the warehouse where I work, and the coop is sky high with brands both places carry.

The benefit of NewPi is the wide variety of organic and local foods. They even have bottles of vinegar made with the same mother as the jars we have in our pantry. I don’t know how they manage a diverse inventory when the grocery business is going the opposite direction, but I am glad to be able to visit them once in a while.

I wrote 61 newspaper articles for three papers in 2014, with the last one making yesterday’s front page. It has been a learning experience to freelance, and a different kind of writing. Some editors have been better than others, and each has provided solid lessons in the craft of writing. I am thankful for the opportunity our local paper provided to get me started, but glad I moved on to the Iowa City Press Citizen. More articles are planned in 2015.

 The holidays are in full gear. With my work at the warehouse, I’ll stay busy until Jan. 1 as we want to end the year with zero carry-over product demonstrations. That means I’ll be working almost every day until we are finished. For a while, the warehouse work is my only job—the first time since I can remember there has only been one. And that’s okay for a while.