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We were at the house of my maternal grandparents for Christmas this year. This gets very long, and may be somewhat disorganized, due to being written over the course of almost a week. )

Happy new year, everyone.
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I am not sure whether to blame my Smith friends or my family, but I have contracted a rather nasty cold. At this point I detect three major pieces of silver lining:

-I only felt it coming on last night, which meant that it held off until after I had done the Christmas thing with both sides of the family (and probably infected all of them, but I'm looking for bright sides here).

-Being sick was a perfectly good reason to sleep for four hours (four hours! I never sleep during the day; judge for yourselves how sick I am) rather than going to my grandma's awful megachurch. Not only was it a good excuse, I was instructed to stay home.

-I can still breathe through my nose.

There was some other news, but at this moment I can no longer remember what it was. Maybe I'll just go back to sleep now.
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I just got off the phone (off the skype?) with my mom/her extended family, who are celebrating Thanksgiving today. It sounds like my almost-three-year-old cousin has developed a fondness for my aunt's phone (or rather, the cousin's phone which my aunt has in her keeping). Mom says that the first words out of my cousin's mouth when she saw my aunt today were "WhereNaomifone?" My aunt keeps the phone off so that my cousin can't call anyone while playing with it, and my cousin has learned that if she manages to turn the phone on, she needs to take it to my aunt to be turned off . . .

Of course, there are also advantages to being an ocean away, namely that I can end the conversation when the shrieking in the background becomes annoying.
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. . . this is an example of my family's own particular brand of absent-mindedness. The worst (or best) bit of this is that when my mother uttered this unusual proclamation, I knew precisely what she meant - that we really truly are out of bread. I had discovered the out-ness of bread earlier, while she was cooking breakfast and asked me to make toast, so I substituted toasted thinly sliced bagels instead. The dictionary came in because my brother was looking up something in the dictionary at the time*. What she actually meant was refrigerator. Or possibly freezer.
This is what my family does. We really truly do know what we're trying to say, but if another thought pops into our heads before we finish with the first one, goodness knows what will pop out. It's especially bad with certain items or places. My mother, for example, is prone to switching "yellow" and "orange" and the whole family does this really spectacular one with Weavers Way (our food co-op), Kilians (the hardware store where my dad works), Project Learn (the school I went to 7th and 8th grade at), Preschool Plus (the preschool we went to way long ago), GFS (my highschool) and GMC (our church). Whenever we want to talk about any of these places, there is at least a 50% chance that we will actually say the name of one of the others. This can be confusing when my dad announces that he's going to go to the hardware store to get bread before dropping Isaac off at the preschool, although contextual clues are often helpful.
Even I do this. I do it much less at school, but even there I have some tendency to say blue when I mean green and left when I mean right and vice versa**.

But the point of this post is not to maunder on about the peculiarities of my family.

Merry Christmas to all and any of you who celebrate it. And happy break and possible present-time to those who don't.

Speaking of dictionaries, I got one. And not just any dictionary. Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged. This is the dictionary that, when I decided I needed a real dictionary*** and went to the bookstore to look at dictionaries, decided that that was the dictionary I wanted. It has thumb tabs that actually correspond to the beginning of the letters they mark - I had rather assumed that this was the norm with dictionaries, rather than the exception, since the dictionary of my childhood does so, but after looking at dictionaries in the bookstore, it's not, and I don't really see the point of evenly-spaced thumb tabs that just happen to be in the general vicinity of the letters they direct one to. Plus a number of other things that I look for in dictionaries that I'm not going to enumerate at this time.
Perhaps you can tell - I'm very pleased about this dictionary.

I spent most of the morning - that is, the portions of the morning that were not occupied with opening my stocking, eating breakfast, opening presents, and writing the beginning of this entry - helping my mother cook Christmas dinner. It's going to be excellent. Which is a good thing, since it's also going to be about two hours late, since the furnace didn't come on this morning****, and mom had to spend some time mucking about with that, and of course the spinach took longer than we expected (and to think, the recipe called for two pounds of spinach, and we only used 20 ounces (16 ounces in a pound, for those who don't know)). But I love lamb with feta and spinach and potatoes, despite all the work that goes into the spinach.

*The word in question was shank. We all had a general idea of what shank meant^, but when the recipe tells you to start by rolling the shank of the piece of meat and then roll the leg, you need more than a general understanding. The dictionary wasn't very helpful in this regard, so we just decided that they meant, "Start with the skinny part, and then do the thick part."

^With the possible exception of Isaac; I didn't ask him.

**This is terrible. You have no idea. I do manage to keep it mostly under control, because it's something I do when I'm not thinking about it, and I'm aware enough that I do it that I pay attention whenever I have to say left or right and generally get it correct. So, for example, I'm actually quite reliable when giving directions, because I pay attention to the fact that the direction-words are involved in this process.
But I had an enormous amount of difficulty learning left and right in Spanish. And I could not get my teacher to understand that this was not because I didn't know that derecho means right and izquierda means left; that it was specifically because I associated them with the English words - which I have trouble with - so I couldn't get them right in Spanish, either. Nowadays I seem to have them associated with right-ness and left-ness, rather than the English words, so I'm just fine in Spanish.

***I'm not sure how many of you will appreciate the need to a real, paper dictionary. This is okay, because I showed it to Dee and Bob last night^, and they both were properly appreciative, and Bob, in addition, performed several dictionary litmus tests^^ on it and declared it good.

^Yes, I got it last night - we exchanged presents with Dad on Christmas Eve because we're with Mom on Christmas.

****Apparently, when the fellow came to service it yesterday, he forgot to turn it back on. Ooops.

^^For example:
living adj 3: remaining uncut or unquarried <"in places the track was cut out of the living rock" . . .>
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I was lying on my bed, reading a book, and my neighbor staggered in under this giant fruit basket. She dumped it on my bed and explained that she was nearly knocked down by the person carrying it in.
I, of course, was very puzzled, since while I could think of people who would send me fruit, this particular fruit basket is enormous. On reading the label, I discovered that it's from my aunt and uncle.

I called them to say thanks, they told me that it was because I wouldn't be home with my family for Easter. I think that they worry about me. It's very sweet.

The basket is truly huge. It's roughtly 1' x 1' x 1.5', and it easily weighs 15 pounds - maybe more. It's not the biggest fruit basket I have ever seen, but it's definitely one of the biggest nice fruit baskets I have ever seen.

So - would anyone like some fruit? There's loads of the stuff.

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