All caught up. Whooopeee. Jan 1st. 08. Eight??? Wow.

So I'm caught up...and now after you've absorbed the next zillion words, we'll be all square. Yay. So - when last we met Rich and I were ready to say farewell to the snow and all those fun folks who can't verbally differentiate their 'car keys' from their 'khakis'. So - let the Bermudian portion commence.

If you want to know the difference between where you are and December in Bermuda...well - here's a little picture I took on Christmas day:

TWO WISE MEN xmas-day.JPG

So here’s my advice. Don’t travel with a fishing pole. Or rather don’t travel with a fishing pole as an additional piece of luggage. See – the fishing pole itself was really not the problem we were anticipated… it just was the catalyst for a whole bunch of tsuris (translated from the Yiddish: pain in the keester).

See, as you may recall, when Dad visited us and we went to the ginormous sporting goods store, we managed, under duress, to get him to pick out a fishing rod to replace the one of his that had apparently been permanently borrowed by a complete stranger. Or stolen. Either way. So Dad picked one out. They shipped it to our apartment and it arrived in a extremely, extremely long cardboard tube which we had every intention of shipping to Bermuda long before we traveled there ourselves. However – there is not a UPS store anywhere in Huntington… the Post Office won’t take it… and I’ve forgotten why not Fed Ex. But not. And, because we had it stored not in direct line of sight of where we exit the apartment, every time we headed to Fort Wayne we forgot it. And then all kinds of madness happened like youtube etc. And it just fell through the cracks. Which meant – we needed to take it with us on the plane. Fun fun.

Pack Leader was less than convinced that we’d be able to check in on the plane. So I got online and looked at the baggage limitations on US Air, which SEEMED to say we couldn’t. It said eighty inches max – and this was eighty five long (remember when I said it was long… yup…it’s LONG). So I called US Air. And, big surprise, got someone named Susan with an Indian accent…but after I managed to get her to understand that I didn’t want to use it as carry on luggage (which, inexplicably she was actually willing to entertain as a concept) she put me on hold and then came back and told me that she checked multiple sources, and the fishing pole would be ok. Pack Leader still not totally convinced (what they tell us in Bombay is not necessarily what they’ll say in Indianapolis), so after double checking that the fishing pole could, if necessary, spend the holidays stored inside our truck parked at the airport (because leaving it just sitting in the back of the truck didn’t seem the most secure option – and if it couldn’t fit INSIDE the truck – once we were at the airport we were screwed) we decided to go for it.

So – It was no problem. No problem getting from Indianapolis to Boston for Holiday Najuch, and no problem checking it in at Boston a week later to get to Bermuda. Now, on our way to Boston we only had three bags and the fishing pole. A larger bag, containing most of the bulky gifts etc for my parents or Rich’s family, had made the journey to Massachusetts earlier with Bob and Janice in their Blazer. And, after all the Najuch gifts were dispensed (Janice and Bob kindly took the gifts we received back to Ohio with them for later pick-up - I tell you they’re better than the Wells Fargo Wagon). But – still – in order to trek everything to Bermuda (including stuff my Mom needed me to pick up for other folks since she couldn’t get to the states this year) we now had four bags – one overweight – PLUS the fishing pole.

So, Christmas morning, check in was fine at Boston. We had to pay extra for the extra bag and the overweight bag… but the fishing pole was ok. All was well – hooray! Well – then we arrived in Bermuda and the curse of the fishing pole began. Well first of all the overweight bag didn’t make it. Which, if it hadn’t been the bag that we had to pay extra for so that it got special attention because it was heavy wouldn’t have sucked too much. But then, and this has NEVER happened to me before traveling to Bermuda since I was three, a uniform customs dude comes up to me while we are still AT the conveyor waiting for luggage and starts asking about the cardboard tube. Now, this went just fine because this guy knew who my dad was (cuz Dad is all lawyer-super-hero-awesome) and most people who know who my dad is, also know he fishes. So – he was cool about the fishing pole. So we went through and paid all our duty at the duty-paying place where you take your declaration form which, in Bermuda, is an itemized thing sort of like a helicopter instruction manual. And that all went fine, and we paid our eight zillion dollars worth of duty…and then it was time to go through customs. Now, normally, on Christmas Day in Bermuda, traveling through customs is a breeze. Everyone is in a festive mood and they are all super nice and it’s sort of a few quick questions and then you’re through because they don’t want people to have to wait in a line forever while they go through everything. But this time we had to go through the whole ‘my bag is lost – what does it look like? – it looks like a lost bag’ thing. Which meant we were like last in line. And as we get to the check out the guy who knew my dad says to the customs officers “just check the tube” – meaning xray it or whatever. But for some reason, the two customs people (who now had nothing better to do until the next plane arrived because we were last in line) decided he said “take apart every thing they packed and ask them to produce receipts for their skin cells.” It was not fun. I mean we had declared everything – but it took an hour. And they question you about everything. And I was already upset we were missing a bag. And the worst thing was is that Rich and I had just split the items we were declaring between our forms – since it was all for my parents and I was paying the duty for it. We declared everything – but not specific to his luggage or mine. And they split us up to two different inspectors. And they are not particularly versed in Bermuda with thinking of two confirmed bachelors like a husband and wife for instance. And we had debated about using the “are you declaring for another member of your household” option and having me declare all of it – but figured that it might cuz us more damage than good. So poor Rich was across from me and they’d be asking him a question about something he’d gotten for my Mom, or they’d be questioning what the ‘household goods’ on his form were (which were in my bag not his) and I would try and come over and answer their questions but they’d be “sir I need you to step back to your area”… and I’d be like “but it’s my stuff”…to the point where this one woman in desperate need of a large delivery of coal from Mr. Claus, was like “I need you to step away back to your area, keep your hands at your sides, and face the other direction”. It was lovely. Ho ho ho.

Anyway – we finally got out of there (and luckily the next day, Dad went with me to pick up the missing bag and the customs person knew who both of us were, and she was really nice – so that only took…oh… an hour to get through). Normally we do presents on the day after Xmas, what we Anglos call Boxing Day. Just because for the past three years, Rich and I arrive on Christmas afternoon, just as Mom and our her B.F. Monica are getting dinner about ready.

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So - we eat, tryptophan kicks in, and I still have to wrap suitcases full of stuff. So we wouldn’t end up ready to unwrap until like two am. BUT this year we were missing the bag that had all of Rich’s presents to everyone in it. And since we normally open presents on Boxing Day morning – we had already planned to have a slew of friends visit in shifts for the rest of the day. So by the time the pressies arrived – people were due to show up. So we didn’t actually have Christmas until December 27th… which was a work day – so we couldn’t do it until Dad got back home from work. Still, it was quite pleasant because by then everyone has recovered from the madness of the holiday itself and was able to enjoy the gifts. ☺

THE CLOSEST TO ELF COSTUMES WE'RE GONNA GET. THIS YEAR :( xmas-pic.JPG

I have been trying without much success to force the Pack Leader to rest, but he seems to have his laptop permanently grafted to his knees or research or whatever...

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He’s been getting a lot of his NY web clients taken care of and also dealing with Columbia stuff.

He can't even seem to let go of the tools: mr-fix-it.JPG

Plus making his terrifying year-long to-do list which gives me hives each time I contemplate it.

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Yesterday we also pulled out the auditorium plans and started figuring out how we should go about reconfiguring the stage area – which is quite a tricky little juggling game. But we actually think we’ve got a good starting template that we can work from. Of course it’s gonna be tricky to really figure out the nitty gritty until the we get the screen down. Which is going to be…um… yah. Piece of cake. Sure.

Anyway – I also have to get through a couple of potential scripts for the Bermuda Festival that I want to drop off for their consideration. Which I’ll probably get to later today. Mom has been feeding us like we were ducks getting ready for a fois gras festival, and it’s been far warmer than I ever remember it being this time of year. The Christmas Department of the only remaining department store on the island burned down the day before we arrived… which my Mother thinks might have been God’s way of trying to tell them that upside down Christmas trees are an abomination to nature (frankly, I think they are nifty – but she’s a traditionalist). Speaking of Donna and the Christmas decorations… the house looks as beautiful as ever for the holidays.

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So I’ll show you some pics… As you can see, it ain’t exactly a white Christmas around here. ☺

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ME AND SAUL - oh no wait - I get those pudgy little guys with beards confused :) me-and-santa1.JPG

New Year’s Eve was extremely quite – we were completely abandoned by the usual suspects – Peter (the local political cartoonist who is like the grandfather I never had) was spending it with his family since his REAL (whatever) grandchildren and great-grandchildren are visiting from the UK.

PERHAPS IF THERE HAD BEEN SOME OF THESE FAMOUS TENDERLOINS I WOULD HAVE COME... pork-tenderloin.JPG

Due to some big rap concert they were having in the middle of town, my Mom’s friend Monica (who at this point is an honorary Froomkin whether or not she wanted to be) was very nervous about crazy people on the roads and insisted on staying home. About which I will continue to torment her for at least the next decade.

"I AGREE PETER. AND I HEARD THERE WOULD BE NO PIE." monica.jpg

Actually there was pie. Of two varieties. So there.

Mom and Dad and Rich and I whiled away the countdown playing Trivial Pursuit. Dad opened a bottle of extremely expensive champagne he’d been given as a some work gift – and after one sip of it and making faces like we were auditioning for the live action version of “the California Raisins visit the Pickle factory” – we switched some far less expensive and actually drinkable stuff.

And thus – we usher in a brand new year of drywall, paint and goo. Happy Goo Year to all.

Xo Jojo.