1.  I gathered myself enough to restart The Handmaid’s Tale this week.

2.  Some of you might recall I watched the first episode, completely freaked out, and swore I’d never go back.

3.  That was maybe five months ago. I’m not sure, covid days all run together, I just know it’s been staring back from my Hulu home screen for a long damn time.

4.  I’m not that far into the first season but I’ve got some thoughts. If you’re among the few who haven’t seen this yet – and seriously, I think I’m the last one out there – you might want to skip ahead to #17.

5.  This is some crazy shit. Real cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

6.  But it’s the sort of crazy shit skillfully written so that it’s scary as all get out.

7.  Some parts require no leaps of the imagination.

8.  Police in riot gear forcing back protestors? Check.

9.  Well armed militia/terrorists rallying behind a cause? Also check.

10.  Women and minorities gathered up, stripped of their rights, separated from their children, detained indefinitely? Check again.

11.  Other details work in layers.

12.  Declaring reading and writing forbidden for women? Sounds impossible until you realize how rights get slowly stripped away from groups all the time.

13.  An entire population forced into servitude to the privileged class? That’s not really so hard to imagine, is it?

14.  Controlling people’s finances. Clothing based on class. Public executions for dissidents.

15.  I’m just saying it’s got some eerily familiar stuff for a “dystopian” story.

16.  And now I’m remembering why I was disturbed by the book.

17.  My early Christmas gift came this week.

18.  Almost every year I succumb to the lure of Black Friday sales for something I’ve really wanted but wouldn’t splurge on and voila! Early Christmas gift.

19.  This year it’s the Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Indoor Grill. What a mouthful, right?

20.  I’ve been wanting an indoor grill for…well, not “forever” but a pretty long time.

21.  Our regular grill sits outside the basement entrance so even if I mastered it – which hasn’t been the case so far – it’s not exactly conducive for meals.

22.  I mean it’s not like I can keep meal prep going in the kitchen while bopping downstairs to check the grill.

23.  If I don’t burn a side I’ll lose the grill stuff. If I keep all that on track I’ll surely lose something to Gracie antics. There’s just a lot of holes in this plan (and that’s before I talk about the rain and cold).

24.  But an indoor grill I can do. And an indoor grill that also crisps (aka air fryer), roasts, bakes, broils, and dehydrates? Absolutely.

25.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my inaugural Ninja use was – wait for it – making bacon.

26.  Yes, that’s right, I used this super fancy kitchen appliance to crisp up bacon for the kids one morning and it was scrum-diddly-umptious.

27.  But just so I sound more adult-y let’s call the next night’s dinner our inaugural use: grilled salmon. Have I ever grilled fish in my life? Nope, but this thing has a secret weapon.

28.  The Ninja comes with a thermometer stored on the side. Insert it into the thickest part of whatever you’re grilling, choose your settings, and BAM you’re ready to go.

29.  Once that thing preheated I slid the salmon pieces in, closed the lid, and went on about my business. Have I mentioned how awesome this thing is?

30.  Then two days later we were using it for bacon again because nothing makes an early school morning better like BACON!

31.  Welcome to almost fifty. New kitchen appliances bring Christmas joy now.

32.  Seven has begun picking up laundry mid-fold and trotting away.

33.  I fuss at him, I do, but he looks so pleased with himself. Like some sort of mighty hunter bouncing off with his prey.

34.  It’s hard to sound stern while snickering.

35.  Tree update: Two bottom branches are now bent to the floor. Another looks like it’ll give up the ghost any day now.

36.  On the plus side Seven hasn’t broken any ornaments. Whoop whoop!

37.  An unexpected bonus: the bells scattered around the tree act as a kitty alert system so at least we know when he’s banging around in there.

38.  Three to go and I’m super sleepy. What else? I’ve embraced a new level of casual this month.

39.  It’s not at all uncommon for me to drive Bear to practice while wearing pajama pants or a flannel shirt. The other day it was both, gloriously mismatched and utterly comfortable.

40.  I couldn’t help hearing mom’s voice in my head: you’d better hope you don’t get in an accident looking like this! Well yes, kind of, but mostly because I’d be cold waiting for someone to come help. Priorities.