A Very Sari Christmas a/k/a the Terribly Delicious Cheesecake

Often simple things bring the greatest joy. . .




And sometimes seasonal excess does it for others. . .



A bit of nog might bring relief from the excess . .


especially when your Mum plays you and your siblings like a Steinway piano . . .


which is remarkable cause she doesn’t even play the piano



. . . it’s just to ensure she gets her pain pill


**       **       **


Hobbled by serious abdominal pain, Josh never made it to Minneapolis or Minot to meet Sari.   When we Skyped with him at Grandma’s, we were shocked at how gaunt and weak he looked.  I’ve never been sick before, he noted calmly, still days before his diagnosis.  He had lost over 30 pounds in two months and doctors were frustratingly slow in discovering what was tearing at his insides.  It’s terrifying because he was just fine the last time we saw him.

Finally, in between tests, Josh ended up in the ER, where doctors began aggressively treating his dehydrated condition.  A scan revealed a blockage in the large intestine which began to suggest Crohn’s Disease – something we’re all suddenly, anxiously trying to read and learn about.  With Josh in a Billings hospital awaiting a diagnosis and Sari stranded in Minot because of a snowstorm, no extra drama is needed from family and friends.



During our week off, H and I took a trip downtown to pick up a theater ticket for Sari and grab a quick lunch.  While we were out, Grandma panicked everyone by calling Irene at work declaring, “The heat’s not working!”  compelling H to cut our outing short and skedaddle quickly back to Grandma’s.  Of course, when H arrived back at the house, the heat wasn’t out at all . . .  With Grandma’s incessant mom-who-cried-wolf shenanigans, we can never be sure. . .


The weather was getting nasty that day too.  No big deal for Grandma.  If  “Pain Pill” isn’t in your sentence, she can’t be bothered.  But if you want to see her move faster than Lance Armstrong, tell her you have her Pain Pill and/or a french fry waiting at the kitchen table.  Not sure which she’ll spring for quicker.


**        **        **


Back at the office, a week before Christmas, the Pentagon sent Marlin a “Counter-terrorism” desk calendar.

Focusing on state-sponsored terrorists, it’s a “Know-your-Terrorist” day-by-day desk calendar.  Completely surreal yet mind-numbingly fascinating.  Not surprisingly, M squirreled it away in his lair like some office Gutenberg.



**       **       **

Speaking of terrorists, during intermission at the Woolly Mammoth’s “Barack All Stars” production last summer, just as I exited the women’s room, Rahm “WTF” Emanuel was speedily turning a corner out of the men’s room.   I blinked, double-blinked. 

In the lobby, after deftly stalking the man, I brazenly asked his wife to take a photo of us with my cell.  She was happy and accommodating, clearly enjoying the evening.  When she got his attention, he looked me up and down like a specimen in a petrie dish, briefly waited for me to say something, and upon realizing I was a mute, slid his finger-less arm around me while his wife cheerily snapped the pic.  Sputtering my thanks, I slinked off to show SLF a photo of the President’s then-chief-of-staff.  “Who?” SLF asked, underwhelmed.  When she saw my photo she realized he was the same guy she’d seen laughing just a few rows ahead of her, especially at the “Tiny Terror Rahm” segments. 

In the photo his wife had snapped of me and Rahm, his haunting, spooky mobster-eyes were closed !  Oy!  No!

**       **       **

On Sari’s first day in town, we rumbled up to Albertville, famed for the third largest outlet in the US, and where some really ugly stuff can suddenly, disturbingly begin to appear beautiful, due to some wierd chic outlet hypnosis.  Possibly due to dehydration and resulting temporary dizziness.


The polar fleece sweater Josh nixed due to its “moss green” color.  “I’ll never wear it,” he texted frankly to Sari, who had carefully picked it out with her love of neutrals.  After inadvertently insulting her color sense, Josh texted back, “I’d rather you returned it and got your  money back.”   “He has no clue what’s a good color,” she carped, as she tromped back to Eddie Bauer’s …

S negotiates a secret deal with H.

Food, drink and general sustenance did not seem to be
a consideration in the creation of the sprawling Albertville outlet…
Adding to the dehydration and dizziness



With a few Dog Whisperer strokes, Tasha dissolves into “sleep mode”…



On Xmas Eve, H holds up a spectacular Afghani bread from Holy Land Bakeries.
“Hurry up,” she snarled, “People are looking at me.”



The random series of numbers that garnered 500 clams for H. . .
and briefly sent her into hyperventilation. . .


John gifted us four tickets for Billy Elliott on Xmas Day.  Since H had already seen the Chicago production, and someone had to stay with Grandma, we had an extra ticket.  Outside the theater, a homeless young man with a beautiful voice was singing a capella, shilling for change.  We should give him our extra ticket, Sari says.  After a bit of encouragement, she went out and handed it to him.   He gave her a beautiful smile, but we suspected he might not show up in case he tried to sell the ticket.  But just before the curtain rose, he slid into the seat next to Sari, doffed his cap and watched the over-heated Elton John production with us.  During intermission, he told us he had just lost his job and was living down the block at the Salvation Army.  He also ran out during intermission to sing to some of the smokers, and after the show to take advantage of the crowd spilling out.

During Sari’s visit, we endured yet another obscene amount of snowfall . . .



. . . which Tasha appreciated.

To be honest, T-Bone’s extreme snowball obsession was starting to frighten child and beast alike.  With a little help from Sari’s calm and assertive tossing technique tips, Tasha’s delirium tremens visibly mellowed and the snow ball catches became a bit of zen funness for both tosser and tossee !


The snow that had no more place to go –
other than trucking the excess over to Wisconsin. . .


Tasha looks for Sky, a sweet Golden Retriever neighbor, whom she loves to taunt



H sprays T-Bone with some record-breaking snowfall.



Irene and Tashy head out to visit Joyce, visiting from Texas.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s me she wants to see,” Irene quips.



Tasha is clueless about her charms.
Part of her charm



H and T-Bone share a quiet moment.


If you have snowball in hand, Tasha will do anything you ask. . .
Anything. . .  Even a David Blaine magical act . . .



her jumps near magical . . .


In the shadows, Tasha ponders kaleidescopic lights…



Walking around Huset Park, where some lights kept intriguingly changing colors. . .  Tasha sniffed around awhile until a dog from the lower level of the apartment starting yapping and growling like mad, forcing us to leave.



Driving downtown to see the Santaland Diaries the next night, I goofed up the time the play started, so Irene sped downtown while H and S drove back from South Minneapolis to meet us, where they had just dug out out our snowed-in driveway.

The actor playing the Macy’s elf  was very likeable.  We kept marveling at how he could remember David Sedaris’ lengthy monologue. . .

The setting was intimate, warm and cozy, I mean really warm, like in fall-asleep-over-one-toddy-kind-of-warm, in your  circular early-Guthrie style seats.

Afterwards we went out to eat, tricky, as a lot of restaurants were losed the day after Christmas.  The Sample Room was open and looked intriguing.  The mugshot of a baby-faced Sinatra posted between the men’s and ladies’ rooms was a little exciting for a Frankophile.


With fabulous culinary instinct, H ordered the best thing on the menu — a bleu cheese chicken burger.  So good, Sari quickly ordered herself an additional meal.  In the meantime, I tried my “sample’ plates consisting of a hilariously tiny piece of Rochambeau cheese (one-half ounce of ‘stinky’ cheese with a schmear of cranberry sauce and honey), a tuna carpaccio drenched in a sweetish pond of soy, and a wee dish of roasted root vegetables, all of which combined to give me a sample of stomach cramps. . . .

Irene’s Reuben sandwich, which looked dark and mysterious upon arrival, had so much gristle, she was unable to enjoy or finish it.  Unwilling to bash it when the waiter came by to ask how everything was, she asked the waiter to remove the plate.  When Sari’s burger finally arrived, she split it with Irene.  If you knew Sari’s hormonal feeding frenzies, you’d understand the magnitude of the gesture. . . .

Josh was the unspoken elephant in the room.  Everyone was worried about him.  At the time, we were worrying it was taking so long for him to get checked out and no one seemed to be taking his symptoms seriously.  Not just the doctors, but his boss.


Tasha has a natural insatiable curiosity for many things.
Teaches you to appreciate the wisdom of quiet time
and sharpening your observation skills…



Sari’s visit was highlighted by the made-from-scratch
cheesecake she worked on like a mad scientist.
The kind of cheesecake where like seriously stealthy,
hard-core cheeseheadsare caught stealing tastes
before its ten-hour cooling period is up…



One night, we watched South Park’s spoof of the Food Network.
Stan’s dad, Randy, gets unnaturally hooked on cooking shows,
and especially on the all-purpose ingredient, “Creme Fraiche. . .”


Simultaneously, Randy’s wife gets hooked on the “shake weight”. . .
Hilarious circular genius the way
the South Park boys tie the stories together.

Especially funny to watch
with a Food Network junkie…

 *     *     *

ps:   Speaking of good laughs, check out “Drunk History”
with Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle on youtube
as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. . .

Choice !

(thanks Firenze)


Bonne Annee mon petit chou chous !


Feel Better Soon Josh    xoxox


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