Shattered – Mishelle Christene, Purple Ink and Fountain Pens

My friend.

Once, she lost a loved one.

We mourned, we cried, we laughed at the wrong things. Or maybe the right things.

She didn’t feel well.

We met and drank coffee  and Pepsi and solved the world’s problems and tried to sort our parenthood and wifeliness, and a good Christian life.

We prayed.

She got the diagnosis. I refused to believe.

We broke bread and cried a little and prayed a lot.

And I saw her strength, and her youth, and her  sweet soul.

And I accepted what the doctors said, but I knew she’d beat it.

Or so I convinced myself.

And we decided hat we’d concentrate on things more fun than the world’s problems.

And I went home and prayed some more.

She had surgery.  We chatted, we talked, she was tired and sore.

But feeling better every day.

We made plans to get together when she left the hospital.

And she got home from the hospital, but I couldn’t get over there, new job and all.

So we chatted some more.  And she was feeling better.

A little better every day.

So we decided I’d be taking her for coffee when she felt just a little bit better.

Soon.

And I waited for her to tell me to come on over, with beverages and purple ink that she probably already had in her stash anyways.

And I messaged, but she didn’t respond.

And then she died.

Just like that.

Shattered.

I still owed you a coffee my friend. 

Dammit.

 

lyrics and music for hymn god be with you till we meet again

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

lyrics and music for hymn god be with you till we meet again

Its no secret that I’ve been a hospice volunteer for over a decade now.  I continue to see my little piece of involvement in end of life care as a privilege and a gift.  I know that when my feelings change, it’ll be time to move on to something else. But I’m not there yet. Even after all these years, sometimes I experience a goosebumps moment.

Recently, I regularly spent time with a bedridden patient and sat with her while her husband got out of the house and ran a few errands.  He’d visit with me a bit, make sure she was settled, assure her he’d be back shortly.  Then he’d take off to take care of the little things that we don’t even think about.  Little things become a logistical issue when you’re a full-item caregiver.  While he was gone, she and I would visit until she tired, then she’d rest.  I’d stay close, within touching range, in her line of sight, and I’d read a book until he returned.  She always woke up when he returned.

One visit, while she was sleeping, he initiated a frank conversation about her death and his own life after she was gone.  He said he’d be okay if she just died in her sleep one night, and that their sons would be around to keep an eye on him.  And he promised me that he’d take care of himself, that he’d be okay.

The next week, while he was out, she spoke to me about how her husband and sons would manage without her. She said she knew they’d be heartbroken and lonely, but that it would be okay anyhow.  She told me she was finally going to see her son again – the one who’d died in a horrific accident decades ago.  She said she’d see me again, but neither of us said “next week”. She drifted off to sleep and I stayed by her side, holding her hand feeling bones and warmth and heartbeat beneath delicate skin .  Her eyes fluttered open as her husband returned from his appointment.  This tiny little bedridden woman flashed me to most brilliant smile then turned her gaze towards him.

We chatted for a bit, then my visit time ended and I prepared to leave. I leaned down over the hospital bed,  she and I shared a gentle hug.  I turned towards her husband, standing right there.  Instead of releasing me from our hug, he pulled me closer, over to her bed. He placed my hand on her shoulder.  He said we were going to sing together, God Be With You Till We Meet Again.  I’m sorry to admit I didn’t know the words.  So I hummed along and listened as she gathered enough breath to get a few of the lyrics out.  He, a man very near his ninth decade, sang with the voice of  youth.  He sang with strength, and sorrow, and utter faith and trust.  We ended the song with tears in our eyes, and we said goodbye.

Then, as he did every single week,  he asked if I’d taken a look at the literature he’d left for me.  Photos and testimonials and pamphlets for a miracle health product which had saved his life.  Yes, it was an amway product pitch, each and every visit. That  slightly awkward multi-level marketing opportunity provided us a transition from this confidential little life story back to the day-t0-day of the world around us.  Plus, you know, it was an amazing opportunity, too.

As I headed  towards my car, I heard the click of the deadbolt, just as I’d heard each and every week since I’d starting seeing these two.  In the car,  I paused before starting the ignition. I reminded myself that goodbyes are part of the deal when spending time with people who are dying.  I took a few breaths, gathered my composure, and mustered up some patience for the inevitable highway traffic I was about to face.  And I drove off.

Later, I contacted the hospice office and asked for an update on the patient’s condition.  I was told that her decline continued but there was no evidence that her passing was imminent.  Of course, we never can tell for certain, but there were no changes that would suggest she would die very soon.

But she knew.  And he knew.  And so did I.

We knew I’d never again enter that overheated room, where she liked the drapes closed  for privacy.  That I wouldn’t  hear about their farm, long since sold,  or sift through and admire photos of children and grandchildren.  I knew that I’d never again gently deflect his requests for me to share marketing materials with all my friends. We knew that we’d not have another opportunity to thank one another for the gift of our time together.

And she passed away, quietly, in her sleep.

Goodbye.

 

 

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Stick Figure of Tim

Tipping According to Tim

Stick Figure of Tipping TimUpdate on this this tipping post.

I’ve got tipping down pat at home, but I’ve recently spent some time in Europe.   Friends who live here said you pay what your’e charged, you don’t have to worry about doing math in your head, tax and tip are included.  Easy, right?  Not.  So my friends, some who have traveled far more extensively than me, said of course you have to tip, just only 10%.  Then, when I asked politely, I was told by locals that only Americans tip.  Of course they’ll not say no, but really, it isn’t necessary.  To top it off, I am handed a restaurant tab that say, in bold “service not included”.  So, am I to tip and expect quiet sniggering behind my back?  Or am I to pay the exact amount and risk being cheap?  Or… a possible solution, how about pretending I don’t know the local currency and having the round up to the nearest whatever?  Yes, I have seen some do this.  Creative, I suppose.  Instead of being tightfisted or American (why should that even be an issue?), I’m just not very smart.   Hmm.

 

Husband and I pretty much agree to disagree when it comes to tipping. He’s old school – 15%, a dollar a bag, etc.  In contrast, I’ve worked for tips and tend to be (possibly) overly-generous.  Ask my barista.  It is unlikely we’ll ever be on the same page, but there are worse things a marriage can suffer.

And…here’s Tim to the rescue.  His blog is a romp to read, plus he has stick figures.  And charts.  I love charts.  So, now we all know where we fall on the tipping spectrum. At least based on a relatively small survey of New Yorkers a couple of years back.  Thanks, Tim, for doing the heavy lifting.

Here’s the link: Wait But Why on Tipping

Seashore Shawl

Noblesville, Yarn, and My Seashore Shawl

Seashore ShawlOn a recent trip, I found myself in the delightful town of  Noblesville Indiana, with plans to meet some friends for lunch at Rosie’s Place.   Someday I want to live in a town like Noblesville, a quiet suburb just northeast of Indianapolis. As I walked to lunch I couldn’t help but notice the courthouse that anchored downtown Noblesville –  backed against the White River and  surrounded by shops and businesses which then gave way to homes built before I was born.  Perfect.

I’d done my research ahead of time, and found not only the lovely diner where we’d meet, but a yarn store that looked quite promising.  So, of course, I made a point to arrive a little early to check out  Black Sheep Yarn and Fiber Arts,  housed in a beautiful old Victorian conveniently right next to public parking.  Which cost twenty-five cents an hour. Twenty Five Cents an Hour.

 

So I found this Freia yarn I hadn’t seen before.  It caught my attention and I’ll tell you why .  First, the name was Freia*.  Freia is an old Nordic name., lso spelled Freyja, Freja, and Freya.  It means “lady” and is the name of the goddess of love, beauty, war and death in Norse mythology.  Freya also happens to be the name of one of my sisters. And, in my lifetime, I’ve met very few people blessed with that moniker.  I’ve heard it has recently become popular in Great Britain – I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open on my next trip across the pond.  In any case, so the name caught my attention.  And the color ways… oh my!  Well, and then as I looked more closely – this yarn is merino/silk and well worth a quick fondle.  I was enamored.  In any case, this delightful little skein made it into my bag, the back of my car, and after a more than a few hundred miles, onto my needles at home.  And you can see the results – my Seashore Shawl.  I’m pleased with the results, I received a couple of compliments, and, well, life is pretty good.

 

* For more information about Freia Fibers, check out their site: Freia Fibers.  But be warned – that delicious merino/silk is not available online, but only through a limited number of retailers.  I’ve put in a request at my LYS and the owner tells me she’s on the waiting list.  Fingers crossed.

parsley growing in my garden

Parsley

parsley-in-bedParsley!  Who would think this humble herb would have such strong attachment to my Italian heritage?

It is early spring,  cold and damp enough to require extra layers. One of those sun-barely-up mornings that calls me to wander the yard and see whats up.  I’m in my jammies and bare feet, against every ounce of my common sense adultness.  All around me is tinged a warm sort of pink from the rising sun.  No cars, no planes, no music or doorbells or conversations, just an occasional twitter or tweet, the kind that birds make.  Emergence and rebirth, the scent of damp earth, a scampering bunny escaping the threat of me… this time of year a survey of my city-lot size domain of green brings peace, stillness, a calm.  Steam swirled up from my coffee cup, my only source of warmth. It’d be a short exploration.

As I wandered into my rain-soaked garden I  saw determined parsley plants pushing up through the mud.  This year, they’ve beat they’ve managed to beat the chives and the daffodils.  Determined little plants!  Back in the day, my Italian grandmother, Nonni, grew  parsley.  She was in California, so her garden had bundles of green year-round.  They grew in a long bed that followed the fence delineating property boundaries.  On the other side, the Gaspars had concrete, but my grandparents yard was green everywhere.  The parsley shared space with lilies of the valley.  Wow, I wish I’d have a high definition camera back then.  Or any camera, for that matter.  I think I was six, and of course preserving what was plain old normal at Nonni and Grandpa’s never crossed my mind.  Now, decades later, I can still see, smell, feel that little tiny piece of my past.

Back then, the only parsley everyone else knew about was that curly stuff. It usually showed up on a restaurant plate next to the baked potato.  And nobody ever ate it, ever!

But my Nonni grew flat-leaf parsley from seed she’d brought from Roccamonfina. That parsley came across the Atlantic in steerage, tucked away in a little packet just like the ones that held future tomato and zucchini and pepper plants.  Nonni nurtured and pampered and encouraged those little seeds into a small but productive garden in the tiny lot they shared with several families Methuen.  Then they made it over to Lawrence, again a small city lot, hardly enough sun, but they grew and ate every year, and saved seeds for the next season.  Finally, a big move to sunny southern California.  Oh my, the garden flourished!  Grandpa was retired by then, and he would spend half his days puttering, trimming his roses, plucking tomato beetles, shooing the chickens, trimming the lawn. Grandpa had a green thumb.

Nonni would hand me the shears and scoot me out, the screen door banging behind me.   And I would  snip parsley, just a little from each plant, not too much, so more would grow back for next time. I’d come back into the house with an armful of fragrant greenery.  Then I’d help her mince and mash that parsley with salt and lots of garlic, making a pungent paste. It would seem to take forever to come together into the absolutely smooth consistency Nonni required.  Later, my mother would be express her horror that  Nonni had let a youngster handle a sharp knife.  That perfectly smooth paste would go into Nonni’s braciole. I still dream about that rolled steak and the cooked-all-day sauce that went with it.

Our Italian heritage is more than name, language, history.  We find our culture and our past in the simplest of things sometimes, and some of our strongest connections come at random… like walking through a rain-soaked herb garden just after dawn on an early spring morning.

What, Me? Committed?  About Those Resolutions…..

What, Me? Committed? About Those Resolutions…..

2015_16So I took several posts to share my plans for the New Year.  My resolutions, if you will.  Then I sort of fell off the virtual earth.  Been awfully quiet around here, I know.  So, after taking a peek back at what I said, I think it is only fair to share what I actually did.  Here we go.

I’ll start right away with That Temperature Scarf.  I’ll admit I did get a bit behind.  I used my most recent road trip as an excuse.  Who wants to haul 8 balls of yarn around?  In any case, I found a great website, wunderground.  It’s a weather site, and the fun part is that people who have home weather stations can post all kinds of weather-related activity.  So, I found one right near my house, and, funny world that we live in, I actually know the folks who are sharing their data.  She’s a talented (read: published) novelist and they have two super-smart sons.  Daughter used to play tennis with the older one, back in the day.  But I digress.  I printed up a blank calendar, and, from their weather station, I jot down the high and low temperature for each day. Since each day is only two short rows of knitting (it is a scarf, after all), I sit down every week or two and get the needles going. Since it was so cold, I decided to make a daily low scarf.  Perhaps later I’ll make another for high temps.  I’m pleased to say not only is January complete, but based on one month’s worth of stitches, it looks like my scarf-of-lows will be a bit long, but not freakishly so.

Good for me!

Now, let’s talk about Taming the Paper.  I’m proud to say my kitchen counter is clear, the shredder is busy and I fill my recycle bin each week.  I do have a couple of paper projects to finish. I need to send that registration paperwork for Rosy the Therapy Dog (and AKC Canine Good Citizen!).

paperworks needs to be done- stack of papers, folders and envelops

A bunch of bill-paying is set to automatic now, wish I’d done that ages ago.  Taxes are nearly done, FAFSA will be finished right after Uncle’s stuff gets e-filed.  What is FAFSA, you say?  Lucky you!  Someday when your offspring head off to college, you’ll know the pleasure and pain of FAFSA.  Simply put, FAFSA is an annual online entry of a bunch of information you’ve already shared with the IRS.  Your child(ren) don’t get any financial aid if FAFSA isn’t done.  Magazine piles are gone – yay me!  Why am I still getting magazines?  Oh well, they’ll all expire eventually.  I’m using all the time I’m saving to plan a big trip.  Anyone have good hints on cheap car rentals in Europe?

So far, so good!

Those Genealogy Files.  Well, I’d kind of vowed to go through and remove errors and get everything organized and beautiful.  I made some progress, I really did!  I’ve got an indexed list of everybody and another list of all the things that need rechecking.  I’ve added a bunch of photos to dead people’s profiles.  I made it through a major genealogical panic when it looked like my software was going kaput, and found a solution and rode out that storm with only a few chewed fingernails.  I’ve backed up and got caught up on correspondence.

But the occasional search is just way too tempting.  And how can you deny me the pleasure of finding treasures like this?   I mean, honestly, this is just too fascinating to let go.  The_Escanaba_Daily_Press__Escanaba__MI__4_May_1948__Tue__death_of_Helen_Duprie_at_age_36I’m not exactly sure who she is, but I’m almost certain she’s related to my great-grandfather.  This clipping is from 1948.
So, not only must I find some time to figure out exactly who she is, but I must, must do a little digging and see if they found out why she died after eating a hamburger.  Did she choke?  Was she poisoned?  Did the counter clerk hit her over the head with a brick for non-payment?  Seriously, this merits attention.  Then I’ll get right back to organizing and cleaning my genealogy files, I promise.

Now, about that long list of Random Resolutions.  There were twenty of them.  I won’t bore you with every detail, but I have managed to keep on top of 18 of them.  I even scheduled the damn mammogram.  It is so very difficult to not yell at the tv, what with this being an election year, but I’m trying.  I’d say 50% success on that one.  I’ve blown it completely on baking cookies more often.  In my defense, however, I’ve been getting my fanny to the gym and just snagged a treadmill.  Why would I bake cookies when I’m working so hard to remove the sweets deposited on my hips?  I will make a batch soon, and it will go straight in a box to be sent to Daughter at college.  My plants are watered, I knit and write and read nearly every day, and I watch His shows without whining too much.  And I’m giving that forgive thing a great effort.  I’d say mostly a win on Resolutions 2016.

Granted, it is only February.  I may have to revisit this in a couple of months.

 

More from Random Resolutions, The Genealogy Files

More from Random Resolutions, The Genealogy Files

1925 Adolfo Petteruti 7 - Version 2
Grandpa’s Vaudeville Days

I’ve been gathering my family genealogy information for about two decades now.  Pell-mell and random, but there must be some semblance of an accurate family history in there somewhere. Another Random Resolution – to organized my piles of paper and electronic genealogy files and to verify that they’re accurate.  I’m not going to hunt very many new leads until I get all of what I have in order.

Big plans for 2016! Wish me luck.

So this far-more-knowledgeable-than-I-am genealogist out of Australia posted 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy.  Here is the link: 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy  Below, I’ve copied some of the text and added comments from me, a long-time but still beginner very disorganized family historian.

 

  • Don’t expect to find your whole tree online.
    • If you do, it almost certainly has piles of inaccuracies.  I’m still trying to sort out the two nearly identical families of 11 or 12 kids, four generations back, that are apparently not actually the same families.  Wot?
  • In fact if you find information online, don’t assume it is accurate.
    • See above.  This is why I am going to go through all my stacks of paper and files.  I got caught up early on when all that great information became available online, and I accepted and downloaded way too many files without checking them.  My OCD self (CDO for those of you who get that) hates that my family history is probably riddled with errors and lovely stories that have no actual merit.  What?  I’m not the great-great-great grandchild of the lost czar?  How did that happen?
  • Don’t show living people in your online tree unless you have it hidden and Private.
    • Do I even have to say anything here?  Well, maybe that I can go back and make the people who’ve died visible now.
  • Don’t take information or photographs from others and not give anything back.
    • Common courtesy, right?  Such short supply of that, these days.
  • Don’t expect that you can do it ALL for free.
    • My Ancestry subscription has been worth every penny.
  • Don’t be a name-collector. Look for the stories that MAKE the people.
    • Just like world history, names and dates are just plain boring, if there isn’t some real life behind them.
  • Don’t believe everything on a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate.
    • Not everyone is honest when they fill out forms.   I found out not too long ago that the father on a birth certificate had actually adopted the baby, and had been nowhere in the vicinity when conception occurred.
  • Don’t give up if you hit a brickwall. Take a look at it from a different direction.
    • Yeah.  I’m so very guilty of that.  Perhaps this year I’ll find the tools I need to smash the biggest ones.
  • Don’t write on a chart in pen until you are 100% sure of the details.
    • Pen?  Are you kidding?  Hello, graphite!
  • Don’t assume that if you can’t find the data you’re looking for on a website, that it doesn’t exist. Especially if that website infers that it would be there. Not everything is indexed or digitised yet.
    • And check back again later.  I’ve found searches that turned up empty provide all kinds of stuff just a few months later.  Somebody somewhere is ensuring that everything ever printed will someday be digitized.  I suppose I should thank them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people willing to guide you on your genealogy journey.
    • I’ve been a loner all these years.  Time to start finding some communities.  Plus, best to get the stories from those remaining relatives before they’re gone.
  • Don’t forget to write your OWN history. Afterall you know your own life history better than anyone else.
    • Guilty.

 

  • Always start from yourself and work backwards.
    • Okay, I did do that.
  • Get organised: both on your computer and your paperwork.
    • Did I mention this is my goal for 2016?  I’ve found some resources that I sincerely hope will keep e on track.
  • Join a genealogy group or society. The more you mingle with other researchers the more you’ll learn.
    • Perhaps if I can find the time.  I know there is a group that meets here in town once a month.
  • Do your homework and learn the social history of the area your ancestors came from.
    • Fascinating the things you can find out.  I’ve known the names of the (former) villages my Italian relatives came from since I was a little girl.  I only learned, accidentally that they’re all on the edge of the Pompeii crater.  Seems kind of a fascinating thing to have overlooked.
  • Honour family members wishes when they give you (or let you copy) photos, stories and other information. Not everyone is happy for it to be online.
    • Ummm… back to that common courtesy thing, right?
  • Learn to expect name and date variants. EVERY family has name variants.
    • Boy Howdy, this is true!
  • When filling in a pedigree chart, the male line is always on the top with his wife’s details in the box below.
    • Okay, I could step up to the sexism soapbox, but it has to be one or the other, so why get worked up over it?
  • Be consistent in the way you record your data.
    • Yup – that is back to the whole Big Organization of 2016.  When I started it was paper and pencil and postage stamps.  Now all is digital.  Lets get this stuff integrated.
  • Verify everything with at least two separate sources for each piece of information.
    • Did I mention something about a big project this year?  This is a key component.
  • Back up your files at least once a month and have a copy OFF of your computer, and preferrably a copy at a different location.
    • I’ve got backups that are as old as my last entries.  And my computer has redundant backups on hard drives and in a cloud or two.  But not everything is on paper.  Man, better invest in a few ink cartridges.
  • Expect surprises. It is truly amazing what you’ll find out about your family.
    • The guy who supposedly died, but then (maybe) turned up a few miles away with a different wife and family?  I kid you not, these little gems are so much fun to chew on.  That one is going to be fun.
  • Use ethics when you do find out shocking tales about a family member. Not all stories need to be aired to everyone.
    • Very possibly applicable to the item directly before this one.  But we’ll have to see… if true, a couple of generations are already dead and maybe I have some really cool cousins.
  • Visit as many living relatives as possible to get their stories now. Often family stories have some truth in them. But don’t believe them till verified.
    • I used to get so frustrated when relatives didn’t want to share.  They came here to escape hard things and who wants to talk about that?  But every now and then I’ll find a subject that sparks stories.  Don’t waste your time on this one -people pass away and take all kinds of wonderful antectdotes with them.  I didn’t know my grandma was called “Sarge” (long story) until a family gathering at her funeral.  Oh, what I would give to hear her side of the story!
  • If a document exists, read it. Every detail that is written on it.
    • You’d be amazed at the connections you might find.
  • Learn to record your sources of where (or who) you obtained information from. The sooner you start doing this, the better. And later you’ll be thankful that you took the time to note it now.
    • Then you won’t be going through this massive fix-my-past-mistakes project like me.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2015, Reviewed

Thanksgiving 2015, Reviewed

Feast is finished, dishes are done, leftovers are almost gone.  Time to review Turkey Day 2015.

A dozen of us gathered round, chattered and nibbled and feasted and enjoyed one another.  Our friends’ dogs are always welcome, so we monitored their competition for title of Beggar Extraordinaire.  Unanimous decision – the dogs won.

The Not-So-Great

I say, get the negative out of the way first, then we can bask in the glow of the good parts.

  • Single digit temperatures and an ice storm kept some folks (and their dogs) away.  Rosy was disappointed as she only had one big dog to hang out with.
  • Daughter couldn’t make it, for the first time, ever.  Missed her loads.
  • One couple arrived 135 mimnutes prior to designated time, and had to witness me, hair still damp, desparately trying to make my home guest-worthy.  This year’s photos confirm that I never did manage to get back to finishing my hair.
  • An acute asthma attack sent a guest and his wife packing as they headed home to find an inhaler and some Benadryl.
  • That asthma incident ended in some guests being stranded at ours – no biggie driving them home, but the return trip was ghastly.  Apparently I was the only one out there with tread on my tires and the ability to drive in winter conditions.  Nothing to put the fear of fate in you like a chevy in front crawling along at 12 mph whilst the giant camper van behind is so close you can’t even see his taillights.  Took an hour to go about six miles.  Yes, I guess I’m griping.

But, as far as griping goes, I guess that isn’t so bad.  Some friends suggest we enjoy Thanksgiving because none of us were actually with family.  I can see a wee bit of merit to that idea.  All in all, despite a couple of bumps (and what Thanksgiving gathering doesn’t have those?), I’d say this year was a winner.

Moving on to all the good parts…

Before the Feed

Mulled wine in a crockpot  – perfect for a blustery day.  Yes, it was my intent to get eveyrone warmed up and maybe a tiny bit lubricated.  And here’s what was out for grazers wandering through the kitchen – easy to snag without slowing down conversations:

  • Veggie tray with ranch dressing, by request.  The only diner who touched this was the guest who asked for it.
  • Eggplant red pepper spread, served with rosemary crostini, devoured with full-mouthed muffled compliments.  I’ll definitely serve this again.
  • The cheese & cracker tray received much less attention than usual.   It was suggested that some plain old cheddar and a good baby swiss would have been better.  I’d laid out some more adventurous choices.  Lesson learned.
  • From scratch gooey cheesy spinach artichoke dip, should have made twice as much.  Good thing I’d tucked a little extra in the fridge, just in case.  Madam microwave to the rescue as I had to replenish the bowl.

All in all, before dinner visiting and munching went off without a hitch.  Introductions, small talk, dogs underfoot, catching up… I love my kitchen right before we all sit down.  Happy hungry people, on to the main event…

The Feast

IMG_0332It was more than a decade before our dining room actually housed a place to dine – took that long for Dave and I to find one we agreed upon.  And we love what we chose, but it doesn’t seat a dozen.  So we rearranged the living room, hauled the kitchen table a
round the front hall, and set it on end with the dining table, overflowing into the living room.  I know we’re not the only ones who go through this each year.  And we avoided segregating anyone to a separate “kid’s table”.

I carved and plattered the turkey in the kitchen – mine never looks like the Martha Stewart video, and I’ve decided that next year I’ll try to emulate Alton Brown instead.  Still, the disassembled bird looked appealing on the platter.  We dined on my grandma’s Fiesta Ware,  spooning and slicing with my other grandma’s silver.  Both gone for years, but still treasured and cherished and remembered each time we drag out the feast ware.  We gathered round, began passing platters and bowls, and, well, you know the rest.  Here’s the recap:

  • I don’t get fancy with the bird – buy turkey gets some aromatics stuffed in the cavity, a bit of butter under the skin, and a good shake of salt.  This year I also oven-braised a whole breast, as white meat seems to go fast.  Good decision. All that was left was a drumstick and half a breast I hadn’t carved.  Good thing – I wouldn’t want to be around me if I’d been denied my day-after turkey sandwich.
  • Fancy green salad with goat cheese, provided by a guest.  Perfect.
  • Mashed potatoes are a non-negotiable part of our Thanksgiving.  Made ahead with tons of butter, some milk and a bit of sour cream, always a few lumps to be found.  They evade me until serving time and IMG_0333then reappear as if by magic. Potatoes waited, warm and ready, in a crockpot.  When it came time to pack up leftovers, I had to sneak in and grab some, else husband would have wanted me to make another whole batch.  So, yes, the mashies went over well.
  • Fruit salad, provided by one of our guests.  I so appreciate this, as I can eat something reasonably healthy and she’s the one who spent all that time cutting up fruit and seeding a pomegranate.
  • Gravy.  Of course, and lots of it.  Costco sells the most amazing turkey gravy.  But not for us – I insist on making mine from scratch.  Helps prevent me from cutting into the bird too soon, since I possess insufficient self-control to wait that thirty minutes.  All good in the end, because who doesn’t love gravy?  My gravy is different every year, as I never use a recipe.  This year, my gravy was thin, but delicious.
  • Sweet potato soufflé… for some of our guests, it isn’t a feast without sweet potatoes, so I succumbed.  I knew what I wanted to make, but I couldn’t find a recipe, so I came up with my own, Gabrielle’s Sweet Potato Soufflé.   This dish was well-received by sweet potato lovers and largely ignored by everyone else.  I thought it was delicious, which is good, since we’ve still got some in the fridge.
  • Green beans, Christina’s way.  A nod to daughter, who couldn’t be with us.  Her favorite, and nothing close to the creamy, french onion covered standard.  Lightly steamed fresh greenies seasoned with toasted garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of salt.  Delicious!  However, this dish must be made at the very last minute and doesn’t hold well for second helpings.  Too bad, we make them anyhow and can all feel virtuous for the green veggies we’ve consumed.

Accompanied By…

All in the details, folks.  Our table was long, so our table sported two each gravy boats, butter dishes and S&P.   Guests appreciated speedier access and the table suffered less reach-across-the-table spills.  Some standards grace our table by tradition, some new tastes for adventure:

  • Breads – homemade sourdough and ancient multigrain breads, plus the mandatory biscuits from a can.  Guess which disappeared?  Next year, carbs from a can.
  • Olives from Spain, sweet hot mini red peppers, pickles, real butter… The nibbles weren’t necessary.  And one guest asked for margarine.
  • Cranberry sauce, of course.  By tradition, we must serve the kind from a can – and it must be served intact, so the shape of the can is clearly evident.  Enjoyed by many, every single year.
  • Fresh cranberry-orange relish, for those of us who want to see identifiable cranberries in a cranberry condiment.  I could eat this stuff with a spoon and apparently some of our guests did.  Nice to see an experimental addition go over well.   If you want to give it a try, you can find my recipe here Gabrielle’s Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!
We took a break before dessert…

Sweet Finish

We wandered away from the table, cleaned up a bit, chatted, loved on the dogs,and yelled at a little football.  Once we’d adequately recovered from our tryptophan coma,it was time to work on maximizing our carb consumption.  Pretty much all the dessert was provided by our guests.  No extra days baking for me – I am so going to do it this way again next year!  And every single one of us had at least a little.  Who says you can’t have a dessert or two, just once a year?

  • One of our guests makes the best pumpkin pie, and we had it with whipped cream, ice cream, or both.  Strange, this year there were no takers for both.  We must be growing up or something.
  • Warm-from-the-oven brownies.  Yum.
  • Cheesecake.  From the kitchens of Sara Lee, who really got cheesecake right.
  • Broncos cupcakes.  Sadly, I don’t think they’re going to help our team come back from too many injuries this season.  Still, tasty and easy to add to the plate next to those other choices.
  • Coffee, decaf, black tea, herb tea, hot chocolate.  Thank heavens for my Keurig.

A bit more lounging and visiting, some picking up, getting the dogs back inside… our feast was coming to an end.  I deposited  take away boxes on the counter and instructed everyone to have at it.  That started a frenzy of activity.  Made certain that all the dessert items were destined for a different home.  Dave made a quick run out with shovel and salt to ensure safe passage to vehicles, and our friends headed for home.

Of course, Thanksgiving is not just about feasting.

Thanksgiving at our house ended on the couch with a cuppa.  We caught the end of the Macy’s parade we’d saved just in case, the quiet rumble of the dishwasher in the background, while outside, snow continued to float down.  Just like a Norman Rockwell, inside and out.

Feasting with friends is just one of so many things to be thankful for.  Hoping you’re Day of Thanks was as enjoyable as ours.