1.  Welcome to the first 40 things of December. ‘Tis the season.

2.  I kicked off the week with a double vet appointment for our puppies.

3.  I’d pat myself on the back except those visits were due back in September. Whoops.

4.  Then again, as a wise woman told me, the other option is that I’d be sitting here today and they still wouldn’t have been had their appointment. I’ll take the win.

5.  Can I just say these two pups charmed the pants off those ladies at the vet? Sweet smiles, wagging tails — Gracie planted her furry butt hard enough to shake the table when they offered a treat.

6.  They were full on DELIGHTFUL, I say.

7.  In the ultimate irony Gracie got a glowing report. G-l-o-w-i-n-g, for Pete’s sake.

8.  Healthy weight, teeth look great, eyes/ears/skin in peak shape. She had a small lump under her leg but a fine needle aspiration cleared it as nothing to worry about.

9.  I love this dog to pieces but it’s a damn miracle she’s still with us.

10.  If you’re new(ish) to the blog just pull up posts referencing Gracie, you’ll get the gist.

11.  Phoebe also knocked it out of the park. She has a small amount of tartar buildup but I guess that’s to be expected considering she doesn’t eat, oh, I don’t know — bark.

12.  I took Bear to a braids appointment this week. It was only the second time she’d seen this particular stylist so she wasn’t comfortable getting dropped off. This meant a six hour (yep, SIX) stint in a salon waiting area for me.

13.  I’m nothing if not flexible, though. I roll in with my laptop plus a few books and settle in.

14.  If I may, I’d like to take a moment to discuss Black hair salons. Specifically my presence in them.

15.  It’s the ultimate gift that these women allow me into their space. I keep my head down and focus on my work, basically trying to keep disruption to a minimum.

16.  And I know I’m a disturbance. There’s a kind of ripple after I walk in, then once I’m settled in a seat things fall studiously quiet as they start working on Bear’s hair.

17.  Usually a few hours in, though, when I’ve proven I understand this isn’t my space and stick with being as invisible as I can be, something amazing happens.

18.  While I keep busy I hear the rhythm change. White people might describe it as friendly banter except it’s more than that. It’s like language has taken on a life of its own, flowing in and around, holding each person separately yet together at the same time.

19.  There’s light and love, advice and laughter, worries and wisdom and openness. I’m so extraordinarily grateful I’m allowed to witness this kind of community.

20.  I love how effortlessly Bear slips into these conversations. I see how a Black salon will be home for her no matter where she goes, and what a beautiful thing that is.

21.  And sure, her braids turned out incredible, too, but we get a lot more from these hair days then just fabulous style.

22.  Putting “hair day” on the calendar doesn’t seem to capture all that.

23.  I tried a Creamy Chicken & Lime Soup this week that BrightSide and I agreed was…okay. Here are my thoughts.

24.  Ingredients-wise, my store only had lite coconut milk (no note about sweetened/unsweetened) so that may have affected our results. I included two full jalapeños and our soup wasn’t spicy at all — this could have been due to mild peppers that day or maybe I shouldn’t have seeded them so meticulously.

25.  Also, I didn’t add any suggested toppings; diced jalapeños or some cilantro could go a long way toward adding tastiness.

26.  What I did do was drastically increase the sea salt and freshly ground pepper as well as adding a bunch of cumin and in the end it was, well, good enough.

27.  Probably the best thing to say about this is we needed a reset after so many days of eating heavy holiday food and this soup was definitely on the lighter side.

28.  Meal planning gets complicated during sports season. Bear’s got a game Friday so I added Fried Rice to the calendar — simple, quick, and I can prep everything earlier in the day.

29.  I’ve been making this dish FOREVER so you can imagine my shock when I realized I’ve been making this thing wrong for years now.

30.  The recipe calls for “4 cups cooked long grain rice (preferably leftover).” That’s always meant I tossed four cups of rice in the Instant Pot then used that in my recipe.

31.  Except this week it hit me like lightning — I WAS ACTUALLY USING WAY TOO MUCH RICE. Turns out 1 cup dry rice yields 3 cups cooked rice so no wonder my spices always seemed off!!

32.  So here we go. This week I shall try making our fried rice with, y’know, a correct amount of rice. The world as we know it may collapse.

33.  Last night I made my tried and true Roasted Salmon. This time I used lemon pepper seasoning and sea salt in the butter — mmm mmm good.

34.  Oh! And I stopped by the grocery store yesterday for some produce and the aforementioned salmon. To say I wasn’t put together would be an understatement.

35.  So the cashier finished ringing me up then looks at me and says, “Are you a senior citizen?” [Blink, blink.]

36.  Fine, to be fair Thursday is Senior Discount Day so maybe he was being conscientious about taking care of his customers. But I don’t think so. Anyway, there were a few awkward beats as we tried to figure a way out of this unfortunate situation.

37.  me:  Well…I don’t know. What age is that? Fifty-five? Sixty?

38.  him:  I don’t actually know.

39.  me:  Huh. Me either. I’m not yet. I mean, I’m getting there, but I guess not today.

40.  And that, my friends, is a wrap for now. Happy Friday!