Saturday, November 26, 2016

Focusing on Gratitude

As I watch the news rolling in on the appointment of a bevy of white supremacists and others who would undo the strides we've made in the rights of women, children, minorities and the LGBT community, I have deliberately turned my head temporarily to focus in on what I can still be thankful for.
One of my sisters and my brother-in-law came to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us. Our younger son had to work, but he and his girlfriend joined us for breakfast Thanksgiving morning. That evening, we had the girls with us. I have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey before, but I went and picked out what I thought would be a suitable turkey to roast. From the general hilarity that ensued when I was asked its size, I may have mis-calculated. Our older daughter is what I call a pizzatarian - no meat but also virtually no vegetables. That left four adults and a child and one whopping 22+ pound bird. No matter. I dry-brined it and stuffed the cavity with quartered onions, oranges, garlic and rosemary branches. I spent much of Wednesday contentedly chopping food. Thanksgiving afternoon we sat down to a pile of turkey, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes roasted with pecans and a bourbon-maple glaze, green beans with almonds in balsamic vinegar and pomegranate arils, my family's traditional oyster dressing, and cranberry sauce with ginger and orange marmalade. And gooey mac & cheese and crescent rolls for the pizzatarian. We went around the table saying what we were thankful for this year.
Afterwards, we opened up a bottle of the bollecine rosse (a red prosecco) we brought back from our honeymoon in Chianti. We sat around talking and laughing and sent texts to those of our kids who weren't able to be with us that night.
I took the carcass of the turkey and the herbs, onion, garlic and celery from the cavity and boiled it on the stove for a couple of hours. The meaty stock will go in the freezer, except for what is now in the crock pot, turning into Thanksgiving Leftover Stew. I put in the green beans and some of the mashed potatoes left from dinner, carrots, cabbage, and peas from the fridge and freezer, an extra onion, and half a bottle of red wine. It will be ready for our dinner tonight. And so I am thankful for:

  • Enough food to eat heartily and extra to save for other days.
  • An ability to cook, with or without recipes.
  • A cozy little house that keeps us warm and dry.
  • A yard of my own so I can dig in the dirt and make a place for the bees and butterflies.
  • Good health and an able body.
  • A career that lets me (most of the time) help people heal and get stronger.
  • Plans for travel ahead of me.
  • A safe, friendly neighborhood that prides itself on its cohesiveness.
  • Family and friends who remind me that I am not the only one saddened by the surge in bigotry.
  • Our merged family with four children I love dearly.
  • A loving husband who is giving me a second chance at a happy marriage.
I wish for all of you- regardless of your political leanings - compassion, peace, clarity and gratitude in the coming year.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I need to take a little time to mourn.

The nation, through our outdated electoral college system, has chosen to put us in the hands of a man who brags about assaulting women, encourages violence, and revels in his own prejudice and narrow-mindedness. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and we will ALL have to pay for their anger and bigotry. I am ashamed for us, afraid for us, and grieving for us.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fall projects.

It all started with over pints of IPA and a game of cornhole at a beer garden we like. It suddenly seemed like we should have a cornhole board in our yard.
We bought a 2X4 and got a free piece of scrap OSB and went to work. My husband cut and assembled the blard and I put on two coats of weatherproofing varnish and two coats of white paint (both of which we already had).
Then I collected leaves out of the yard and made a cardboard template for spray painting gold metallic leaves onto the board, and took a brown sharpie to them to add outlines and veining.
We only built one because it's not for a tournament, just something to have for fun in the back yard. The beanbags are black and yellow and we've actually already put this to use on several warm afternoons.
Next up was building a stone enclosure for the metal firepit we already had. My husband took that project as I was painting th ecornhole board.
It was up in no time, since no cementing was involved. He had to take a hammer and chisel to a couple of the top stones to cinch it in tight under the lip of the metal pit, and it seems very sturdy now.
We broke it in on the weekend when the girls were here, toasting marshmallows for s'mores over the fire.
While I was painting the leaf shapes, I accidentally spraypainted a couple of acorns on the ground. Which lead me to painting some more acorns, pinecones and a few mini pumpkins. Why?
Because fall! I may prefer warm seasons, but I do love autumnal colors.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween weekend.

The Saturday before Halloween was one of our kidless Saturdays, so we decided to go to the UU church's costume party. I recycled a thrift store dress I'd used as part of a murder mystery party outfit a decade ago by sewing fringe to the bottom of it. A black boa, bobbed wig with a bejeweled and feathered headband and long pearls, and voilĂ  - instant flapper. My husband did his best Great Gatsby look with a paisley vest and tie and a fedora.  He had a crystal-topped walking stick he'd made, but that didn't find its way into the photo. Instead of heading straight to the party, we went to the speakeasy downtown for a whiskey first because it seemed like the right thing to do. We got smiles and compliments from the bartender and the other patrons.
Last Halloween we saw several families stop just short of our house, presumably thinking there was no one home. This year, I hung up a ghost by the street and strung purple lights along the driveway and to the door to lure them in. By the end of the evening, 70 trick-or-treaters had collected candy from us.
When the stream of costume-clad kids had dwindled down, we grabbed a bottle of wine and the candy bowl and headed next door, where our neighbors were sitting on their porch. We hung out with them, handing out candy to the stragglers and talking about travel. And then about the current election, which lead them to break out a bottle of Irish whiskey. We decided a new tradition had been born.