Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas! And happy Chanukah!

Rare is the blog that is not centered around the Schmolzes.

A lot can happen if you don't update the blog....

For example... family members can get engaged... and other families can be reunited for the holidays. Family members can fall ill and recover. anything can happen when you don't update the blog. That's why it's important to update the blog.

Indeed, on Christmas Allie got a very special present. Shawn proposed to her! Way to go Shawn! Merry Christmas.

The main entree for this blog will be the few wonderful days I spent with that peculiar New Hampshire bunch known as the Shinerocks. While not as wacky as my family, they still earn a place among the few special families that make up the echelon of "bizarro Jeff" families. Don't misconstrue: that's a good thing. If New Hampshire is the granite state, then the average New Hampshire-ite would be plain old granite. But only one New Hampshire family can be of such repute as to be called the Shinerocks. I sure would rather spend Christmas with the Shinerocks over the Granites any day.

Arturo, the St. Bernard. Perro grande. He looks harmless here, but those paws and jowls were a constant threat to the equally wacky Simon the cat.

When the big dog is away, the little cat comes out to play. If it wasn't enough that Simon had to contend with Arturo the oversized dog, Holly then fancies him a plaything just when Simon thinks it's safe to come out of hiding.

We went skiing at Mt. Sunapee: A sunny place to pee and ski.

The magnificent view from the chairlift.

Laurel and Manny. Manny is Lynn's son. Lynn is Amy's cousin.

Solomon disappears below the bluff before the backdrop of lake Sunapee.

One more of Lake Sunapee for good measure.

Hold onto your hats, kids! We're going for a ride!
We only found out about the rifle rentals after we had finished skiing for the day. As a result we missed this great opportunity of all the little tikes lined up in a row. No worries, they weren't real guns; just paint ball guns.

Solomon expresses due disdain for the mountain's attempt to take all the fun out of the sport. What will be next, signs saying no reckless skiing? An outrage.

Solomon will show them. He goes down backwards. Yeah, what now Sunapee?
At least he didn't make a nice sunny pee on the slope.

Big brother and little sister then.

Big brother and little sister now. Little has changed. Umm... this isn't what it looks like? Eve was surprised to see usually skinny Sol had developed a little paunch in his middle section.

Simon and Garfunkle--I mean Evening.

The skiing was marvelous despite it having rained and melted half the snow the night before. (Great timing, eh?) But we had a blast. Steffen's Kniessel's that I'm riding on are dy-no-mite. Between skiing and eating, we played lots of "Catchphrase"-- a very fun game where you have to describe the catchphrase without using words in it for your teammates to guess before the annoying beeper runs out of time and the buzzer goes off.

Christmas morning we opened presents (what a surprise). I was lucky enough to score a nice Calvin Klein shirt and a new Ben Sherman hat I very much needed. Thanks Amy!

People actually buy things from Victoria's Secret? I thought they just admired the beautiful angels in the catalogs.

Not enough pictures of Tristan. The balancing force in the family.

After all these years, I finally got what I always wanted for Christmas! Toothpaste!

What could possibly be so funny? What's in the box? Or perhaps better to ask, what's not in the box?

Santa employed the help of the Elves of Lothlorien to make this special gift for Tristan to give to Laurel.

Tristan gives Laurel a box to keep her recipes in. A worthy gift as Laurel's recipe skills are quite impressive.

Finally Tristan gets a present. He is very happy.

Solomon is very happy.

Eve is very happy.

Robert is very happy.

Laurel and Amy are very happy.

Lynn is very happy.

Manny is very happy.

The dogs and I are very happy.

Happy time. Everybody's happy.
Thanks Shinerocks for the very special Christmas!

And the geese gather on Smiley's pond, awaiting my belated return.

ADDENDUM: On the drive home, I got a little lost and stopped at a 7 Eleven where the attendants were decidedly ambivalent in helping me find my way to the interstate which was nearby. I picked up a map and started to look at it but it wasn't detailed enough to help. A gentleman overheard my needing to get to route 9 west or I-91 south and said he was going that way and for me to follow him. I went to my car and turned it around to see that I had no idea what car the gentleman I was following was in. Frustrated, I started driving in the direction I thought I ought to go but soon was driving in residential streets. Extra frustrated I turned around and drove back to the 7 eleven and felt like I was suddenly in a bad episode of Groundhog's Day. "Uhh... yeah, I'm looking for route 9, --I was gonna follow someone but I didn't umm... I had trouble--anyway, I didn't follow him and I need directions again." The attendant scarcely made recognition that I was just in the store ten minutes prior. When the attendant continued to exercise her right to ambivalence (afterall, I was in the state whose motto is "live free or die") I picked up the same map as before and impulsively bought it. I then started looking at the map again and was double frustrated upon having forgotten that it really was not detailed enough to help me out. I then asked for a refund and the same attendant said she didn't know how to give refunds and that there was no manager. Two seconds later a friendly, elderly gentleman asked what I needed and I told him I was looking for the interstate and that the map I had just bought was unhelpful and wanted a refund. After momentary figuring, he refunded my credit card transaction with cash. He then proceeded to tell me how to get to the interstate when someone interrupted saying "I'm going that way, if you want you can follow me." Feeling quite sheepish at this point, and not sure if I should take this ever mounting feeling of groundhog day nonsense any further, but too beleaguered to follow the attendant's directions, I said okay, and made sure I saw the man's car. So I got in mine and followed the lad. He then pulled over and I did too and he explained how to skip the exit he was taking and go to the end of the road and go left--that will take me to the Interstate. I thanked him, shook his hand and wished him a merry Christmas and put my little snot nozed flagellate into VTEC whining high-rev superfast mode and proceeded to drive down I-91 south like the cops were on my tail. I wasn't the only one in a hurry--afterall, who wants to be driving on the interstate on Christmas day at dusk? I was racing a Subaru WRX, some fancy Infiniti and some other high falutin' gas guzzling SUVs, going anywhere between 80 and 95mph: speed is the ultimate frustration dissolution, and the little gas miser kept up with the Joneses. Loud, but solid as ever. We drove 100 miles without seeing a cop--we got jingle bells rock blasting off the hatchback top, singing sha-la la, sha la la la la la
Sha-la la la la la la
Sha-la la, sha-la la la la la
Sha-la la la la la la or some other Bruce Springsteen Christmas cheer nonsense.

To make a long story short, got off the freeway and finally slowed to within single digits of the speed limit in Stockbridge where there finally was a cop. I waved and smiled and carried on my merry way.

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