Skipping some of the Christmas updating stuff for the moment, I now pause to say that last night our friend Mary Anne, who is doing a whirlwind Christmas-time tour of Alaska sort of thing, deigned to fit us into her busy schedule so long as we agreed to feed her, so she and another friend of ours, Dean, came over for a few hours and we had a good talk. That was plenty much big fun; it’d been, gawd, five years since I’d seen Dean, and — four? — since I’d seen Mary Anne. So Ted cooked spaghetti and we had chocolate fondue for dessert (ooooh, my, that was yummy. A rare treat, that’ll have to be! Ooof!) and it was really pretty great.

Years ago, Dean made me a wolfs’-head necklace, based on Bearclaw’s necklace (I can’t link to any of this stuff because 1. my digital camera isn’t hooked up to this computer so I haven’t uploaded any photos and 2. elfquest.com is down until Tuesday sometime) and mentioned that he’s not sure if he’s going to be in town this year to do the Renne Faire (he might be off climbing Denali, sheesh), and he was thinking of doing a pin of some kind for the Crooked Toad Tavern, which is, er, the on-site pub (with that name, I bet you could figure that out), and so he sorta hoped maybe I could think about doing a drawing or two, ’cause he says once he’s got a nice clean drawing on paper, rendering it in 3-D is really easy for him, but the drawing part is really hard for him. So I think I’ll make up some drawings and see if he likes any of them. :)

And Mary Anne *laugh* wants us to get Legion done just so she can say, as if it’s of no particular import, “Oh, my friend Catie, who is writing and producing a tv series …” *giggle* I have great friends. *laugh*

Der checkerbooker ist balanced now. To my vast irritation, apparently the new company that owns CHI has not got direct deposit set up, or I haven’t done the paperwork, or something; I’m not *aware* of needing to do any more paperwork, but … Sigh.

It was an excellent Christmas for poetry! I bought myself The Essential Rilke, and the parental units gave Deirdre and me both copies of The Best American Poems, or something very close to that, and to my bemusement, I opened it up to about the fourth page of Song of Myself, which Dad and I had been discussing the day before. God, what a grand poem that is. It must be read aloud; it’s nothing, read silently, but aloud, it — well, it sings. And Ted got a book of swords that’s really quite cool, with all kinds of information about blades and hilts and just *stuff* about swords.

Deirdre and Gavin gave Ted and me a game called Cranium, and after we got done with presents and with visiting (Kathy and Ken and Grandma came over) and dinner, we played Cranium, which the girls (me, Deirdre and Mom) won, and it’s really a pretty fun game. You have to do a variety of things to advance: mimic actors, hum songs, guess phrases, spell words (both forwards and backwards), and lots of other things. So that was lots of fun, and afterwards we played Spoons, which is the most violent card game I know of, short of an actual gunfight at a poker game.

For those who don’t know it: put 1 spoon fewer than you have players on the table in a circle with the bowls facing out. Shuffle two (or more) decks of cards together. Deal out 5 cards to each player. The dealer takes the cards that aren’t dealt out, looks at the first one, and either keeps it and passes on one of his own cards, or passes it on. The next person does the same; the idea is to do it as quickly as possible. The goal is to get 4 of a kind while holding no more than 5 cards in your hand, and then to snatch a spoon. Everyone else must leap for a spoon after the first one has been taken. The person who doesn’t get one gets an ‘S’, and so on until someone has ‘SPOONS’, and then the game is over.

In my family, playing Spoons is a survival of the fittest game. We have been known to fling ourselves bodily across the table, wrestling each other to the ground for a spoon. In fact, a few Christmases ago (apparently Spoons is another Tradition) Deirdre and I did exactly that. One of us knocked a spoon across the table and to the floor. I literally bellyflopped myself across the table, reaching for the spoon, while Deirdre flung herself across Dad’s lap and we both desperately snatched for the spoon. Deirdre got it; I, with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard, proclaimed, “I was *WEAK*!”, which has now become a family by-line when a spoon is missed.

During one round on Tuesday, I accidentally grabbed two spoons, and while trying to let go of one of them, Ted knocked another spoon into Dad’s lap, and lunged for it, causing Dad to all but shriek and flinch backwards; Deirdre stood up and tried to sit back in her chair, but it had fallen over backwards and the poor honey whacked her funny bone on the chair leg, causing her to cry, but even through the tears, she snuffled, “I was *weak*!”

We played two games, at the end of which we were hoarse from shouting and laughing, and everybody was bruised or gouged, and we’d left all sorts of scars in the soft pine table, and finally, exhausted, we wound down and read and talked a bit and then everybody staggered off to bed.

Oh, at dinner, we were talking about the weird things that my family did, and I’d almost snarfed once, and just as I was taking a sip of milk, Mom said, “Once your father said to me, “Good night, light,” and it made me laugh, which made me spit milk across the table, which made everyone laugh very, very hard. *helpless laughter* I like my family so much. :)

Christmas day was really pretty laid back. We got up around 9, wrapped presents, ate orange rolls for breakfast–

–ok, see, my family has Traditions. These Traditions are set by us doing something once and then saying the next year, “We ALWAYS do X!” After a while, it becomes true. One of these Traditions is having pizza on Christmas Eve, which we started doing when I was about 14, I think, although possibly it was many years before that. This year we did not have pizza on Christmas Eve, although Mom said she thought about it *several* times. However, since she had no idea when anybody was coming back from shopping/collecting Grandma/etc, she thought she’d just make dinner. And potato soup is very fine, so I have no objections to breaking Tradition for once.

So Christmas morning we had orange rolls, and I had to ask, because while I *suspected* it was a Tradition, I couldn’t actually remember for sure. So I said, “Do we always have orange rolls for Christmas breakfast?” And Mom stared at me in horror and said, “We ALWAYS have orange rolls! It’s *Tradition*!” Well, I thought it was, but it’s hard to be sure. :)

So after our Traditional Orange Rolls, we sat around reading or something and waiting for Deirdre and Gavin to get back from southern Washington where they’d spent Christmas morning with Gavin’s family. We didn’t get around to opening Christmas presents until about one, in other words, making it the most relaxed Christmas in the history of our family. And despite the fact that we’d had to bring gifts or buy them there, there was quite a lot of loot. Among the highlights were a HUGE book on mammals that Gavin received (apparently Ted and I had missed an extended conversation about marsupials, before we arrived, and the book was to help Gavin learn all about marsupials so next time he saw the family he could explain them in detail. Instead we all sat around and pored over the book and learned about marsupials and many other very strange and interesting animals.) and Deirdre’s red hat, which was a duplicate of one she lost a few months ago and was very very sad about losing. There were books of poetry and calendars and oh, crap, I still haven’t balanced the checkbook. More later.

Ok, I spent most of the afternoon working on Christmas photos, so I didn’t do any more catchup writings. I’ll do more this weekend. Or Monday. :)

So after our very pleasant time in Longview, we drove back up to Seattle, and drove right to where we were supposed to be, then thought it wasn’t where we were supposed to be, drove around some more, decided it *was* where we were supposed to be, drove back, found out we didn’t know what apartment # we were in, drove away again, called, found out it was the one we’d been standing in front of, and drove BACK again, finally arriving safely. Sheesh.

We hung out for a while and talked with Mom and Gavin and Deirdre and Lizzie (Gavin’s sister) and then we went to Bellevue Square, which is a very large mall, to finish our Christmas shopping, which we did in an expedient 50 minutes, leaving us with 20 minutes before the mall closed forever. Or at least until the 26th. We were very proud of ourselves. :)

We went looking for a present for Aunt Mabel and Grandma, and I wanted to get them some kind of jewelry with pearls, because they were born in June, so we went to look for some kind of pretty (and identical) necklaces, but I was also concerned about the clasps, because they’re 85 years old, and I wanted to get them something that they’d be able to do and undo! So we found a very pretty necklace indeed, but the clasp was just impossible, so we looked some more and found matching pearl bracelets with sensible clasps–

–excuse me, moment of complete distraction. My Elfin name is:

Adusulë (root name, suitable for feminine and masculine); another masculine version is Adusulëion; more feminine versions are Adusulëiel, Adusulëien, or Adusulëwen

for ‘Catherine Eileen Murphy’, or

Carfalas (Carfalasion(m), Carfalasiel, Carfalasien and Carfalaswen(f))

for Catherine Murphy.

–and so we bought them the bracelets, and Mabel even commented when they opened them that they were the sorts of clasps that old fingers could handle! So I was very pleased. :) Anyway, while we were there looking for the bracelets we also found a pretty delicate little sapphire and diamond set that had (manmade) sapphires and diamonds and so now I have sapphire stud earrings and a *beautiful* little necklace that goes with it and a very delicate pretty little ring that doesn’t actually fit on any of my fingers at the moment, but it’s still lovely, and aren’t I *spoiled*?

Having accomplished the vast task of shopping — a chess game for Gavin, a calendar for Mom (her real present is here, as is Deirdre’s, which we have to send to her), a couple of travel books for Dad — we scurried back home and were treated to potato soup, yum. Wow. I’m hungry, she realized suddenly. Maybe I’ll call this part done and — oh, no, Ted is going to arrive here with lunch in a bit, so I’ll wait til then to post this.

Grandma came over for dinner, and while I forget how the topic came up, I ended up telling her about Legion and about the exciting and potentially mind-bogglingly exciting developments there (for those of you at home who are keeping track, Nichole, the agent, is working with Sarah on Sarah’s screenplay for at least the rest of 2001, and will be looking at Legion in January, so that part is on hold for now, but keep your fingers crossed and hold your breath and think positive thoughts for Sarah!!) and Grandma got *quite* excited about the whole thing and crossed her fingers for us (literally) and said she didn’t know how I could possibly not think about it every waking moment. *laugh* So that was pretty neat. :)

And we all talked and had a lot of fun and hung out for the rest of the evening.