Walking my dog with my current favorite snow-trudging music (No Age's noisy, lyrical and potent "Everything In Between") iPodding into my brain, I thought "OK, the last bowl game's been played so the free ride of the holidays is officially more than over, time to warp speed back into real life."

Here's a rear-view-mirrored peek into a smidgen of that smudgy dreamtime that was the end of December.

My inner self?

Actually, this wild sculpture is a 3D take on a famous painting by Arcimboldo. Arcimblodo was a phenomenally talented and creative Hapsburg court artist who painted unique portraits that were mostly built up out of imagined stacks of fruits and vegetables (though the above is a dessicated "Winter" portrait made out of "stick bundles"). To finally see Arcimboldo's bright and beautiful paintings in the flesh--they haven't ever been shown all together in the states before (I was in the National Gallery as I spent X-mas in D.C.)--was a trenendous thrill!

I love the East Wing (contemporary art focused) of the National Gallery. Plus, at the time I was reading Steve Martin's surprisingly (at least to me ) smart new "art world" novel "An Object of Beauty," and a section I had just finished described this Robert Motherwell painting, which enigmatically hovers above one of Richard Serra's heavy, rusty and defiantly earthbound sculptures.

The psychedelic, disco-ball-like automated passageway between the East and West wings is always a fun little ride.

Leaving the museums and knowing what kind of mammoth dinner I'd be walking into later (this was Xmas eve), I had a low key, but healthy and delicious lunch at this very clever chain I wish were represented here in Columbus.

This ultra-fresh health bomb took like 3 minutes to make and cost like $6

Yeah, I've got a big family!

I couldn't begin to describe the outrageous feast we had that night, but here's a look at a few items. Above is kibbeh two ways, raw and cooked, both absolutely wonderful!

Make that three ways. Kibbeh Labanieh is kibbeh drenched in a crazy great homemade yogurt soup. A stunner!

Whole roasted grouper stuffed with harissa and walnuts. WOW!

Oh yeah, there was filet mignon, too. And then bottles of Barolo followed by the ill-advised emptying out of most of an oversized bottle (a veritable cask) of Johnny Walker Blue!

Flash forward to New Year's Eve, and it's dinner at Alana's.

Alana told us this killer Amish "cross chicken" dish was her personal favorite--hey, I wasn't arguing!

The next day, we had the semi-traditional Rose Bowl party at Castello Benton. It always includes "OH MY GOD THAT'S GOOD!" pork roasted for 12 hours. As per tradition, we slide it into the oven, wobbly as marionettes strung to the top of a COTA bus, right before hitting the sack at an ill-advised hour.

RJZ's scalloped potatoes (a variant on my mom's recipe) were especially terrific this year.

WHEW, am I glad that's all over!