7:00 PM Marlene and I just got back from buying a Christmas tree. We couldn’t find anything we liked at one store so we were on our way to another store when we saw Christmas trees for sale behind the Portillo’s at the corner of Des Plaines and Roosevelt Road in Forest Park. So on impulse we pulled in to the Christmas tree lot and looked around. There was a sign saying that the trees were $29 apiece. We were the only ones there until a young man in a Michigan State sweatshirt greeted us. Turns out he is from the UP (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) where he lives 11 months out of the year. Last Wednesday he came down with a friend (and a load of Christmas trees) to this spot behind Portillo’s. The rest of the year he helps build log cabin homes. He’ll be living in the trailer by the Christmas tree lot until two days before Christmas. He says they will sell 1000-1500 trees. We looked around for a while, picked out one or two trees, and asked which one he liked best. “I like ’em all,” he said. “Good answer,” I replied. So we bought a tree and the young man helped us tie it to the top of our car. He seemed like a fine fellow and I thought I’d pass along this recommendation. If you don’t know where to go to buy your tree, try the lot behind Portillo’s. I don’t even know his name—but if you meet him, you’ll like him. And the trees were very nice. We left the lot and went to the Drive-Thru at Portillo’s. While we were waiting in line, Marlene squeezed my hand and said, “This really feels like Christmas.” Made me smile all over. PS Right now Marlene is at the store because we discovered that most of our Christmas lights don’t work. Our new tree is up in the corner—unadorned as yet—but it looks just fine to me. At this moment Christmas music is playing in the background. It’s not Christmas yet—but we’re moving in that direction at our house. 4:42 PM Just finished my bike ride. 3363 miles so far this year. 4:40 PM We received $16,000 for the Legacy Campaign Building Fund yesterday … Renovation update: The workers brought in plywood to lay the subfloor in the gym… . Lots of stone work today. That should be finished in a few days. Then they will finish the roof in the portico and install glass in the archways so that the entire structure will be enclosed. 9:59 AM Have you purchased your tickets for “Two From Galilee” yet? Call the church today! Or better yet, come by the church office to purchase your tickets. Two performances on Saturday, one on Sunday. Only five days till the first performance. 9:52 AM Several people have asked how the brine turkey turned out. As I mentioned last week, we were using a recipe by Emeril Lagasse that Marlene found in a magazine. The brine consisted of a mixture of spices and herbs that looked fairly potent when I saw it on the kitchen counter. On Wednesday morning we dumped the mixture in the big container and put the turkey in the solution so it was totally covered. We turned the turkey on Wednesday night. By Thursday morning the turkey was dark brown—which meant the brine had done its work. Marlene cooked it for about four hours. The result? Maybe the best turkey we’ve ever had. Moist, tender, full of flavor. Our experiment was a total success. We also used Emeril’s recipe for yeast rolls with similar amazing results. And I found a recipe for orange rolls on the Internet—best I’ve ever had. (It wasn’t hard to do. I typed in “orange rolls” on Google—and we followed the first recipe that popped up.) The whole meal was excellent and I would give the brine turkey five stars: *****. 9:48 AM Just finished taping an interview with Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America. The interview airs later today on their national broadcast. You can hear it in Chicago at WYLL, 1160 AM, at 11:30 AM.