Monday, December 30, 2019

Spirit of Christmas Past *

So...Last Week I briefed the Oplan for Operation Juvat Christmas 2019 (OJC2019 for brevity/levity). As many of you know, the briefing is the easy part, execution is difficult, and the debrief is the most exacting part of any operation. As I said, we've had the briefing and Christmas 2019 is in the history books, so guess what's next?


 So...All y'all hold your questions, critiques and comments until we're done, then they will be answered in the order I read them.

Phase 1 of OJC2019 was preparation of Rancho Juvat, Mrs J was Flight Lead for this phase.

We encountered some difficulty with illumination which required removal of all lighting from the Christmas tree, as they would not light. Since they were factory installed, this proved tedious, and the wingman in this operation learned an important lesson. Apparently, cutting a small zip tie which binds the electrical cord to the limb of the tree with a pair of metal fingernail clippers, has an important preparatory step to prevent painful outcomes.

Not to worry...I won't make that mistake again. Santa evidently didn't like the vocabulary used by the wing man in the situation.

 A quick trip to Wally World for a replacement strand of strings and the operation resumed with good results.

We'll grade that phase as SPNS.**

We now entered into the operational phases of OJC2019, Phase 2 was intended to be at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, with Mrs J and I, meeting MBD and SIL and greeting Little J and LJW at the international baggage claim as they arrived after a 24 hour journey from the Sand Box.  MBD and SIL's rejoin took a little longer than optimum for perfect execution of the plan, so we settled on rejoining at Chuy's Tex-Mex Restaurant.  Since the objective for this phase was to keep them up until at least dark, some victuals were required.  Burritos as big as yo' face with creamy jalapeno sauce went over well. Oh, and everybody had margaritas.

Except me.  Driving after dark, during deer season, requires my fighter pilot reflexes to be at the top of my game.  That, and a boatload of luck.  Which, evidently, occurred.

So...Phase 2 was successfully completed with only a little bobble on the rejoin.

Phase 3 (The Beast) Christmas Eve started late.  For some reason, Little J and LJW did not join us for breakfast, remaining comfortably in the arms of Morpheus until nearly noon.  However, ever the task master, the Flight Lead (Moi) for this phase, was having none of that.  A couple of stern radio calls quickly formed the formation.  Immediate Objective, finish assembly, delivery and installation of ..."The Beast".

My sister lives in a 600 sq ft cabin on our property.  With three large dogs,  henceforth she shall be referred to as TDW (The Dog Whisperer).  The size of the house requires efficient use of space, and there was one corner that was not being effectively used.  She wanted a desk installed there.

While, normally, it is Mrs J that can say (and enforce) "So it is written, So it shall be" , I made an exception.  However, since my wood shop is 10x16, I couldn't do final assembly there.  So...We brought the desk there.  Sneaking in while she was at work, and then asking her to come directly to our house after work because "...dinner is already going to be late in the evening".  "Yes, we'll feed your dogs."

After some minor adjustments, the task was completed well within the time allotted.

Given her reaction on arrival at her cabin after dinner.  I'll give this phase a "Bravo Zulu".

We exited that AOR and returned to Base to prepare for the next Phase.

Phase 4. Christmas Eve Dinner will begin at 2015 hrs (or whenever the manager at HEB decides to let his people go).    The menu is quite simple.  Pork Carnitas and Salad.  The Pork Butt has been cooking at 275o since about 1000 hrs.  It will now be removed from the oven.  An important safety check will be performed by removing the bone using only two fingers (and a hot pad, yes, Safety Officer Frijole).  If said bone cannot be removed under those conditions, butt is placed back in oven for another hour or until successful removal.  Bone was removed successfully on first try.

Butt is then shredded with metal forks.  3 cans of Chopped Green Chiles are mixed in along with 4 chopped and seeded Jalapeños (4 cans of Chiles if you're just not into spicy) and a couple of table spoons of Salt Lick Garlic Dry Rub. Turn Broiler on high, Broil for about 10 minutes, toss pork a bit, return to broiler for another 10.  Carnita's should be a little crispy and charred, not to much.  return to oven if not to your satisfaction.  Serve with Tortillas, Guacamole and your favorite Salsa.

If you're not satisfied with the green chiles as a vegetable,  add a salad or something.

We served this with a very nice Spanish Garnacha.

It must have been good, and/or everyone was tired, as conversation was a tad less raucous.

Phase 5.  The Big Day, begins at 0730 with a formation assembly at Church. Other than the Christmas music being sung very, very slowly (as in the cadence of a dirge, I may, emphasis on the may, have audibly said "I've heard more joyful music at a funeral" within earshot of Mrs J, otherwise I can't explain the look she gave me.) Other than that, Mass was great, it's always nice to see the kids back with their families, especially if two of them are yours.

Partial present opening was accomplished as MBD and SIL were with his parents for Christmas.

Yes...the one on the left is what you're thinking

I know, I know... "juvat you're going straight to hell for that one".

Preparation for Christmas Dinner began almost immediately.  Dinner will be Prime Rib with British Baked Potatoes.  I've made both of these recipes many time and they are 1) Easy 2) Nearly Foolproof and  3) Delicious.  There is one problem, however.  They require different oven settings.  Which, fortunately I realized early enough to avoid.  The Prime Rib requires a 500o temp for a period of time, then the oven is turned off and left unopened for 2 hours.  The Potatoes require a 400o oven for 2 hours.  I cooked the potatos first then reheated them while the Roast was resting.  Both were fabulous.

As this was Christmas, and this was the first time, Little J and LJW had been home in 18 months, I decided to raid my Wine Closet for one of the Bottles I'd inherited from my Dad.

This turned out to have aged exceptionally, although Little J did cause a little consternation when he checked what the asking price was for a bottle of 1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  Suffice it to say it wasn't $27.99.

But...I'd rather drink it with my Wife and Kids than anyone else.  So...Well Worth it.

Phase 6, The Day after Christmas.  MBD and SIL will be joining us for the day and dinner.  Final round of present exchanging went on.  MBD enjoyed the bracelet I made her.

After which we decided, under MBD's advisement, to visit a new local winery.  I enjoyed a nice glass of Tempranillo while the rest of the gang tasted a flight of reds.

And, since I offered to take a picture of another family, the favor was returned.

The wines were pretty good, not great.  It was a beautiful facility, but the company was fabulous.

The menu for that evening was stipulated by MBD (a recovering vegetarian and not yet able to tolerate beef) was Cassoulet and Green Chile Mac 'n Cheese.  So very shortly after returning from the Winery, the chief Cook and Bottle Washer (Moi) got to work, as the Mac 'n Cheese, while very tasty takes a bit of time to prep.

Had to get 'er done early as Mrs J's sister was attending, and she doesn't like to drive after dark.  And that's probably a good thing as she lives in a section of the county that's basically deer central.

But the food turned out well, the conversation and company was exceptional.

So, this morning, after church, we're at our favorite Sunday brunch restaurant, (I am officially "all cooked out" at this point), when the owner comes walking by carrying a sign saying "Please wait til you're seated", storing it in a small alcove in the restaurant.  Shortly thereafter, I decide to answer the call of nature and, entering that alcove, I notice it placed against the the ladies restroom.

I know, I know...I'm going straight to hell.  But I laughed all the way back to the table.

I was still chuckling when I saw this in the parking lot.
May all Chanters have a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year.

Winter Sunset in Texas. The Alpenglow is awesome!

* A nice little tune by Enya

**SPNS.  A pilot training grading code for "Poopy*** Pattern, Nice Save".

***Or a more scatological version of the word. 


  1. I wish you, your immediate family and extended family a very happy new year. Keep on blogging.

    1. Thanks LL, same to you and yours.

      We re-watched Pirates of the Caribbean over the Holidays, so..."We shall endeavor to acquiesce."

  2. A well-ordered post and quite detailed, the Angry Santa brings a laugh this morning and sharing a bottle of the "best" wine with family is a good thing eh? An excellent tale of the family Christmas doings juvat. Be glad you escaped that parking lot without any crayon drawings of male nether regions on your vehicle as members of that particular Service are wont to do........ :)

    1. Thanks, Nylon, There has been a bit of sharing of wine and beer over this Holiday Season, LJW's Mom stopped by last night. (If you can call driving down from Dallas "Stopping By". So another long but enjoyable evening was encountered.

      I think our friend from the Sea Infantry was on his best behavior as I didn't notice any likely candidates as I surveyed the restaurant. But your warning is noted for future reference.

  3. A most excellent debrief mi teniente coronel! Sounds like your Christmas was first rate, glad to hear it.

    From the looks of that desk and the bracelet, you're a handy chap in the wood shop! Of course, I do have an example of your work, very well done all around!

    To you and yours - ¡Feliz año nuevo!

    1. Thanks, My Friend. and a Frohes neues Jahr!" to you and yours also.

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas!! Congrats on a mission well accomplished!! Christmas is all about family, glad you were able to spend it with all of yours. And the desk and bracelet are both lovely indeed!! Bet they will be treasured by those ladies for a long, long time.

    Hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year's! Looking forward to more pics of retirement projects from the woodshop in 2020 :)

    1. Thanks, Suz. This year made it evident that Mrs J and I have officially become the "Home" as in "Home for the Holidays". That designation in my mind was my Parent's house. Since their passing, it was always "come over to our house" until now. I think I like the change. Hopefully, it'll be even better next year with the new construction completed. (Fingers crossed)

  5. Love your woodworking. I'll have to figure out a time worthy hobby as I get closer to retirement. Preferably one that doesn't just include bourbon and eating too much. Happiest of New Year's.

    1. If you're anything like me (and I suspect you are) I think you'll find that it won't be finding "something" to do, it'll be more of "which something" do I want/need to do today. Besides, if your wife is anything like mine (and I suspect she is), she'll help out with the list of "somethings". Exponentially. As in "One off the top, two more on the bottom".

      Seriously, I had those same concerns prior to taking the leap. At some times it (retirement) looked like trying to jump across the Grand Canyon. However, from this side of retirement looking back, it was more like stepping over a crack in the sidewalk.

      I mean really, you took off and landed on a 1000' runway in the middle of the ocean! How much harder can retirement be?

    2. Thanks. You're probably right. I'll probably do more volunteering to n addition to the honey-dos.

  6. Great post, thanks for sharing. Here's to an awesome year ahead for you and the clan.

    1. Thanks, Brig, And the same to you and yours!

  7. Nice After Action Report. Though you put too much emotion into it. Please resubmit by 1700 in the approved format (i.e. dry, stale, dusty, any actions of a heroic nature should sound like the step by step description of how to open a pull-top can.)

    Angry Santa? Could have been worse, could have been Krampus Ale. Funny story about Krampus, seems the Germans (why is it always the Germans?) (wait? What!?!? Okay, Take 2) FsaK, seems the Italians in Salerno put on a St. Nicholas parade on his (St. Nick's) feast day and so they have a march with St. Nicholas (portrayed by sumdood) followed by a gaggle of sumotherdoods dressed as your favorite evil goat demon-guy, Krampus. And some 'immigrants' decided to get frisky with said parade. Which then broke down to said Krampus(es) showing new 'immigrants' exactly what Krampus(es) do to 'bad children.' Much hilarity, on the part of the Italians and Krampus(es) and probably jolly old St. Nick himself, as hairy goat-demon guys thrashed said 'immigrants' with their (Krampus(es)) switches, and probably a few hooves and fists, too. Now that's a Parade!!! Glad to see the Italians still have it in them.

    Otter dan dat, sounds like you had a fun holiday fest(ival) of your own. Except for having to drive into the, most likely Krampus(es) filled, DFW area. Bleh. Can't get me to go to Mijami or (wh)Orlando or the Tampa Bay Area. Bleh, not fond of big metro-areas. Especially during holiday seasons, with suicide deers despondent on not being unnaturally selected during pre-holiday hunting season.

    Did MBD make the choice to come back to the folds of the predators, or did her medicos politely tell her to eat some meat? (Mrs. Andrew and I tried to do non-meat vegetarianism one summer (no meat, but yes on milk and milk products.) Come next checkup with doctor, he told us firmly we needed to eat our meat, and eat less pudding... I like my doctor, and managed to keep him so far.)

    Desk looks good. Want to read up on an interesting desk build? There's this machinist-paintball gun mechanic-comic artist up in the Kenai peninsula who also conveniently has a blog and does machine re-builds (takes old machines, cleans, paints, repairs and gets them running.) He wanted a big corner desk, so since he's a metal worker by trade, made a huge metal frame desk with rack-mount hardware all over it....

    Too bad that dude lives in Alaska, wouldn't mind an unpaid intern position just to sweep his shop and watch him work. Oh, well, I have other things to do.

    So Merry Christmas (still a few more days left til Jan 6th) to you and yours.

    1. So, when did that Italian Parade episode happen? I'd like to read a bit more about that. I'm always up for a good tale of the bad guys getting a butt whippin'. As did, say, a bad guy in White Settlement Texas yesterday. I'm really sorry that two people died in the 6 seconds it took the bad guy to die, but I am happy there were 6 people with weapons moving towards him when he did. Seems the police couldn't get there in time. Go figure.

      And then that worthless POS O'Rourke had to tweet that gun laws were not working in Texas. Personally, to a certain extent, he's right. A Felon had a weapon. That's the extent of the correctness in the dumbass's statement. However, O'Dumbass, given his way would have prevented to parishioners from being armed. Good Lord! I think that jerk is the epitome of Absolute Zero. There is absolutely zero thought performed before he opens his mouth.

      No...No, I'm not irritated by the man, not at all. But, I believe he and the rest of the world's populate would be better off if he would just STFU!

      That having been said, Beans, Merry Christmas to you and Mrs Andrew and a Happy New Year.

    2. Dec. 5-6ish.

      I understand only the idjits around Austin really like O'Butthole. I tend not to listen to idjits in big cities, as the toxins and poisons tend to concentrate stupidity and idjitry too much.

      As to the ventilated Felon w/a Weapon, from the video it looks like the man who died did a sacrifice play in order to allow others to ventilate said felon. Godspeed, good sir. And it pisses me off that the media lists 2 dead (including Felon w/a Weapon.) rather than 1 dead victim. Way to increase your gun-deaths stats there, Big Media.

  8. Great AAR. Hope you and yours have a blessed New Year.

  9. Merry Christmas, juvat!

    Nice desk. Custom-made furniture is a wondrous thing.

    1. Thanks, she seems happy with it. First attempt went well.

  10. Glad things came off as planned. You're the first I've ever heard of that didn't have things go... sideways... with the first 'shot' so to speak.

  11. Sounds like y'all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was more subdued - eldest offspring is in KEntucky and did not make it home. Youngest was working nights at the ER , but we drove up to see him on Christmas Eve and gave him our presents and took him to 'breakfast' at about 1730 at IHOP.
    As a native Texan, I was also really annoyed by Beta O's idiocy. Almost as much as Reuters reporting that the shooting jackwad was a gun range owner and tactical trainer (which I think describes the security team member that made that well placed headshot). I saw a good enough copy of the video that showed the first person shot you referred to - he stood up and looked like he tried to draw but couldn't get his gun cleared from his jacket and shirt. So not sure if his sacrifice was deliberate, but it doesn't really matter - his action provided the time for the other security team member to make his shot. May he receive all the blessings of his faith and Rest In Peace. Very heroic! God bless Texas and all her citizens!


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