Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Most Twinkliest Time of the Year

As is our wont, Matt & I bought our tree and put up the Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving. My official, prudential, mature reason for this is that if we're going to shell out the ooftish for a tree, we obviously want to get our full money's worth for it--from Thanksgiving weekend through 12th Night.

The true (somewhat embarrassing) reason is that I really, really like the twinkliness and want to get out the sparkle as early as possible every year. And Matt, who endures these rituals with stoic forbearance, lets me.

We've expanded our efforts this year. Matt's work threw out a bunch of strings of C9 lights. Some were quite crapped out; others were still in their boxes, oddly enough. So this year, we were able to wrap some trees in lights in addition to our garland, wreaths, and faux-luminaries. These C9s, though. I'd never used them before. My people were always strictly mini-lights people. Restrained. Modest. Understated. Consequently, these huge, oversized lights look either naive or ironic to me. They're so big and kitschy and jovial and 1950s-ish. Cartoonish, if you will.

C9 string lights

They are also really, exceedingly, startlingly bright.

Whoa. Massive pillars of light. You could read a book by the light from our pecan tree.

In other news, we went to Janice's wedding in Houston on Saturday. Janice is an old friend from Hort Club back at A&M. She had a lovely ceremony, the highlight of which, for me, was the diminuative usher who must have been all of 7 years old asking us with perfect solemnity and gentlemanliness if he could take us to our seats. It was great to see Janice again, whom I haven't seen in years, and who is exactly as I remember her, and also very nice to get to meet her charming new husband, Michael.

I was also reminded, as I always am when I drive down to Houston or Louisiana, of how much I miss the Gulf Coast. Even by Sealy or Columbus, neither of which are especially close to the Gulf, you can start to see the landscape taking on a more coastal look. I'm very fond of Austin in so many ways, but at heart I'm still a girl of the coastal plains--flat, green, wet, alluvial lands with thick, sinewy live oaks and towering cumulus clouds. Although I'm nowhere near them on that stretch of I-10, that geography always calls to mind marshes and shrimp boats and egrets and briny air.

...Which is what always makes it such a surprise to find myself suddenly whisked away to the immortal glades of Arcadia.

Sealy's astonishing golden god/dess

Somewhere near Sealy, the owner of what I think is a cement yard art store has set up this... phenomenon, which defies categorization. Those are larger-than-life golden unicorns, pulling a chariot containing a heroic winged personage of indeterminate gender--muscular, yet more curvaciously endowed in the chest region than your average man. Sort of a hybrid of Athena and Helios. We exited and looped around in order to study this work in greater detail, and to snap the picture (on a cameraphone--sorry for the quality). I think of it as Manthena, the Hermaphrodite God(dess) of Wise and Just War in the Sunshine. Every time I ponder the time, cost, and effort of this project, my mind boggles. Even assuming that it's just tin covered in gold paint, this is still an undertaking so monumental yet preposterous yet somehow perversely admirable that it beggars all attempts to contain it in language.

And finally, because it's a good time of year for excess, we are currently prepping for a holiday dinner with the Ks. They're making a "Flaming Feast" (consisting entirely of food on fire--even including the salad), and we're to bring the dessert. From various recipes online, I've cobbled together something I'm calling "Ragnarok: a Meditation in Four Elements." (It's actually a tarted up Bombe Alaska, but I like my name better.) It's made of genoise cake, dark chocolate ice cream, coffee parfait, and meringue. Earth will be represented by the chocolate ice cream and by the cake, which didn't rise properly. Air will be provided by the many forms of whipped egg whites and whipped cream in the dish. Water will be present (sort of) in the form of rum, and for the fire, we're using, well, fire. Matt, who is amused but doubtful, will be standing by with a fire extinguisher.


Anonymous said...

There can surely be only one of the unicorn/god/ess things in all of Texas. Lucy, Karen and I saw it at the old grain silos in Katy about a year ago. The place was a wonderland of antiques, freaky, weird, vulgar, and downright stupid things! You know, like the larger than life fiberglass Blues Brothers! Some things straight from Hollywood.


Elgin_house said...

Perhaps they made casts of the god/dess and her celestial team of golden unicorns? You know, to meet the demand of all the people who want giant, inexplicable, larger-than-life, faux-gold statue groupings for their front yard.


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