Thanksgiving

WHAT I BOUGHT ON BLACK FRIDAY

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

Honestly, I was in the mood to buy something. A camera, a lens, a widget, gadget, cool electronic toy. I was eager and ready. But wherever I looked, the stuff on sale was something I already own … or something I don’t need or want. I’ve already shopped for my family and close friends, so there are no gifts on my list to be bought.

So I looked. And looked. And looked again. Finally, I found exactly what I needed on Amazon — and snapped it up. Greenies tooth cleaning dog biscuits for small breeds. I was thrilled to find it on sale for 20% less than I usually pay.

That concluded my Black Friday shopping. Garry and I bundled up and went to enjoy the annual lighting of Heritage Museum and Gardens.

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. Thanks to all of you who came and visited. Congratulations to all of us who stuck it through and made it to the end. It has been an experience … and a lot of fun! See you next year!

THANKSGIVING 2013 REDUX

The turkey was delicious. The baked potatoes were perfect. The meal was enough for everyone to eat seconds, thirds and probably fourths, but no one made it to the end of one. The leftovers should feed everyone for at least two days.

In this family, we do not fight at the dinner table, especially not on Thanksgiving when we have gorgeous food to eat. You don’t let the food get cold while you argue. Argue before dinner or, if you can stay awake, after dinner. At the table, eat. We all grew up being told: “Don’t waste food. People are starving in … (fill in current location of famine) … “

Growing up in my family, there were two cardinal sins:

  • Wasting food.
  • Defacing books.

Although each of us grew up with different parents and traditions, we all emerged from food-obsessed cultures. On Thanksgiving … really, at any meal … we eat. With dedication, appreciation and purpose.

Happy Leftovers Day, one and all!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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For those of you who think Norman Rockwell only painted idealized images, he didn’t. His idealized images are the most popular, but he painted many other, hard-edged pictures. If you’re in the neighborhood of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I recommend the Norman Rockwell Museum. It’s an American experience. I especially like this Thanksgiving cover for Life Magazine — reminding us that the Pilgrims were a humorless bunch. They wouldn’t approve of Thanksgiving, not one little bit and you probably wouldn’t want them at your table.

I enjoy Thanksgiving. The idea of it. It’s good there’s a day dedicated to gratitude. And eating too much, visiting with family and friends. But — you knew there was going to be a “but” didn’t you? — I am frequently reminded there are people who don’t have a family. Others who don’t have much to celebrate. And of course Native Americans, who on the whole, don’t find Thanksgiving a reason to rejoice.

So, while we are consuming our dinners and enjoying our family, please give a thought to those who aren’t celebrating. Can’t celebrate. Are disinclined to celebrate.

Please don’t post stuff promoting a work ban on holidays. There are people who need the extra money from working holidays. Not everyone has someplace to go. For many, working holidays is an escape from the pressure of a warm fuzzy event in which they cannot (or will not) participate.

It’s wonderful to be grateful for what we have. It’s also good to be mindful that not everyone is equally or similarly blessed.

The Pilgrims: America’s First Mooches – Covered in Beer, Thomas Cochran

From: The Pilgrims: America’s First Mooches on Covered in Beer by Thomas Cochran
Also see on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Looking back on my younger school days, I can remember the lame way we were taught about the first Thanksgiving like it was a wholesome party on top of Plymouth Rock. They ignored the fact that the Pilgrims had no business being there and the Native Americans would have been perfectly within their rights to shove a hot spear into thou’st rectums; but they didn’t.

This is not a piece of work where I’m going to argue how unjust the discovery/founding of America was etc. because those arguments are stupid. I was born in 1986 and didn’t have a damn thing to do with any of that. But the Pilgrims do remind me of that friend everyone has who conveniently has no cash, stays on your couch too long, cleans out your fridge and then puts pox infected blankets on your bed so you’ll die and he can take your house.

first-welfare-caseThe popular understanding of why the Pilgrims came to America is so they could gain religious freedom, a tale simply untrue. The Pilgrims originally moved to Holland where the laws regarding religious practice were much less restrictive. But, after 12 years, they decided to travel to North America because of financial troubles. In other words, they were tired of paying for stuff and set sail across the earth looking for some free stuff. Well, they found it and then some, and it didn’t take them very long, either.

About five minutes after landing, the Pilgrims began looting some Native American graves they found near the shoreline. The Wampanoag Indians left supplies, as many civilizations did, for their dead’s journey into the afterlife. The Pilgrims mistook this for some sort of community chest and began hoarding the sacred items for themselves. Naturally, when the Indians found out about this they began to shoot arrows at the thieves. Thus, the first Thanksgiving fight was born.

Thankfully, as in every typical Thanksgiving throw down, there was a moderator who eased relations between the Pilgrims and the natives. Squanto is like that uncle who doesn’t drink and is sane enough to stop the fighting before it comes to blows. It is typically taught that Squanto spoke English because of interaction with past settlers. Actually, Squanto was kidnapped five years before the Pilgrims arrived by explorer Thomas Hunt and brought to Spain. There, he learned English and promptly got the hell on back to North America. When the settlers arrived, after muttering, “not these mo-fos again,” Squanto decided to make peace between his people and the Pilgrims. He taught them how to grow corn so they wouldn’t steal anymore from graves. He also taught them a lot of other things that I’d rather not research and write about. Squanto made the fatal mistake when it comes to moochers: he showed them where the beer is.

“If you offer a man a beer, he’ll have a drink; if you show him where they are, he’ll drink all day.” – An Alcoholic who doesn’t fish.

The first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621. It is thought to have begun because the sorry-ass Pilgrims weren’t prepared for the coming winter and begged the natives for food. This also isn’t true. The Pilgrims weren’t totally stupid and were aware they needed to stockpile food for winter. What we call “Thanksgiving” started when the Wampanoag became suspicious of the Pilgrims one day after hearing gunfire. They feared the settlers were preparing for war and became defensive. Instead, the Pilgrims were hunting. Squanto once again was the voice of reason and it was decided that the two sides would enjoy the fall harvest feast together. Happily for us, the Thanksgiving tradition was born.

(Too bad they didn’t follow through on those war suspicions and kill all the Pilgrims in their sleep because in ten years they would become hostile and start trippin’)

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

If you think this is an exaggeration, it’s not. If anything, it’s an understatement. I didn’t write it, but I agree with it and wish I did write it. So … here it is, in its entirety. Enjoy.

PLEASE NOTE: Really, I did NOT write this. It is a reblog, or more accurately, a scoop. Kudos and comments go to:

Covered in Beer: The Pilgrims – America’s First Mooches

See on coveredinbeer.wordpress.com

DAILY PROMPT: SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE RAW CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH

This is the most popular side dish I serve with the turkey on Thanksgiving. This year, I’m making a sugar-free version for my diabetic daughter in law using the baking version of Splenda. There are probably other sweeteners you could use — the measurements will be based on whatever the manufacturer says. Since it isn’t cooked, the only thing you have to worry about is texture. You should use something which has a bit of bulk to it.

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There are many variations of this and I’ve included some in the “related articles” section. The basic recipe is much the same, but the things people add to it vary quite a bit. It’s a popular recipe and has been around for at least 50 years.

They used to publish a version of it on the Ocean Spray package, but stopped a couple of years ago. This is a simple recipe. Takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and a big favorite with everyone. It is the easiest recipe for cranberries I know of. Everybody prefers it to the  traditional cooked cranberry sauce, though I still make that too. For traditionalists.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • A food processor.

Variations:

  • Brown sugar instead of white (or half cup white, half cup brown)
  • Add nuts — walnut meats sounds great (thank you my fellow blogger!) to give it crunch (unless someone has diverticulitis in which case, scratch that!).
  • Add a dash of nutmeg and/or cinnamon — I mean a pinch, not a lot. Especially nutmeg, less is more.

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DIRECTIONS:

No cooking required.

Cut up the orange, rind and pith and all into bite-size pieces. Put the entire bag of cranberries, the orange pieces, the sugar and the lemon juice into the food processor. Grind it all up. If you need to add a little water to get it processing, use tiny bits of water. Too much and you’ll have soup.

When it’s approximately the texture of coarse applesauce, you’re finished. Put it in a container with a lid. Let it chill. It will thicken as it gets colder. You can eat it like applesauce for dessert, serve it with the turkey, as a relish with chicken or pork.

NOTE:

If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. It is more difficult and you’ll have to keep mixing stopping the process and stirring the mixture until it starts to process. You may a bit of extra liquid.

DONE!

That’s it. You’re done. The hardest part is cleaning the food processor. I promise, you will like it. If you don’t, send it here. We will take care of it for you!

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JUST ONE OF THOSE WEEKS

It always happens around the holidays. We become an illustration of Murphy’s Law in action. What can go wrong, goes wrong. At the same time.

On Saturday, we ran out of oil. Why? Because our provider forgot to deliver oil since August. Just … forgot. Saturday afternoon, no hot water. It wasn’t terribly cold and we got hold of The Guy. He put 50 gallons in the tank and restarted the boiler. Today I called them and as soon as I identified myself, she started to apologize, told me the truck was on the way, no idea how or why this happened.

Diagram of an automated water well system powe...

One crisis settled. I took a deep breath. With Thanksgiving just a few days from now. I need to shop, clean, cook. I put supper in the oven. Garry and I were sitting, watching a rerun of Law and Order when the Granddaughter popped upstairs. It was bit late to be asking to borrow the car so it had to be an actual visit … nah … something had happened.

No water. She had tried to take a shower and there was no water. Not hot. Not cold. Not any. We had water in the morning. We had water an hour ago. Less than an hour ago. We replaced the well pump three years ago. June 2010. I knew when because it occurred before the cancer. My son was sure we changed the pump just last year, but I knew it was BC (before cancer) which had to be 2010. Time flies when you are having fun. It meant the warranty has run out on the pump. Still, three years is not much mileage on a well pump.

aquifersandwells

My son came home from work, quickly determined the outside pipe which feeds the garden hose had burst and drained the well. The pump got hot and turned itself off. We closed down the broken pipe, restarted the pump and voilà, water.

If you think that’s the end of the story, you don’t have a well.

A well is just a big hole in the ground that taps into an aquifer. A pump hangs on an electric cable and a pipe through which the water is pushed to the surface and into the house. Ours well is artesian. Deep, almost 500 feet. Normally, that’s a good thing. This is not an arid region and although we have occasional droughts, it’s not like living in the southwest. Mostly, we have plenty of water and don’t think about the well. We have a filter to keep the water clear of particulates. Our natural well water is icy cold and delicious.

wellThrice before the well has run dry. First time, we tried to fill a hot tub in one day. Second time, the old well pump up and died. At 30-years old, it didn’t owe us anything. Last time, lightning hit the pump and killed it. That’s how I know lightning can strike underground. It’s the yummy combination of metal, electricity and water. Really attracts lightning.

Since then we haven’t had to think about the well. Plenty of water, even during periods of drought. So after the pump was back on, we went back to acting normally. Not a good idea — not much water in the well.

I didn’t think about how empty the well was until after Garry had taken a shower and I started to wash the dishes and a little bell went off. Ding, ding, ding: “Whoa, water … damn.” An hour later, there was no water. Again.

We are on the ultimate Water Diet. For the next few days, we have to use as little water as possible. Flush only when we must. Shower only if really dirty (ugh). Wash dishes quickly using minimal water. By Thanksgiving, the well should be full. Or so we fondly believe.

The fun never stops around here.

SUPER SIMPLE TOTALLY YUMMY RAW CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH

Thanksgiving is coming up fast … I can’t believe we’re in the middle of November already. So, I thought I’d share on of the most popular side dishes I serve with the big bird. It’s a simple recipe. Takes less than 10 minutes and it’s a big favorite with family and guests.

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It is the easiest recipe for cranberries I know of. Everybody prefers it to the  traditional cooked cranberry sauce, though I still make that too.

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A food processor.

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DIRECTIONS:

No cooking required.

Cut up the orange, rind and pith and all into bite-size pieces. Put the entire bag of cranberries, the orange pieces, the sugar and the lemon juice into the food processor. Grind it all up. If you need to add a little water to get it processing, use tiny bits of water. Too much and you’ll have soup.

When it’s about the texture of coarse applesauce, you’re done. Put it in a container with a lid and let it chill. You can eat it like applesauce for dessert, serve it with the turkey, as a relish with chicken or pork.

VARIATIONS:

Sometimes I add a bit of cinnamon or a pinch of ground cloves. I’ve never tried making a sugar-free version of it, but I see no reason you could not simply substitute one of the cooking versions of Splenda for sugar. It might change the texture, but maybe not.

NOTE:

If your food processor breaks down on you or you don’t have one (mine died on me in the middle of making this batch), you can use a blender. You’ll have to keep mixing stuff until it starts to process and you may need a little extra liquid.

DONE!

That’s it. You’re done. The hardest part is cleaning the food processor.

Bet you’ll like it!

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MAO AND A TURKEY

Long ago in a land far away, we had a Siamese cat. Mao — “cat” in Chinese. I don’t know if that’s Mandarin, Cantonese or some other dialect, but it was a good name.

English: A two-year-old seal point "tradi...

We got Mao as a tiny kitten. From day 1, he was a feisty, chatty cat.  Our first cat, which his name reflected. Mao Ee (Cat 1). There were, of course, many others over the decades in all the places and houses in I’ve called home, but there’s never been another cat anything like Mao.

When we traveled, friends took care of our house. I was a great grower of plants back then. Feeding the cats was one part of the job … but watering the 200 plus plants was — or should have been — the bigger task. Frank — best friend’s husband — was often tasked with house care in our absence. Mao was a thinking cat. A logical cat. He decided we were gone because Frank had driven us away. Thus if Mao could drive Frank away, we would come home.

Thus, when Frank came to the house to feed and water cats and plants, Mao attacked him. I don’t mean a little pounce, a playful swat. It was all out warfare. Mao crouched in shadows and attacked, all 20 claws outstretched, going for gore. Poor Frank loved cats and he and Mao had always gotten along fine. He had no idea why Mao was out to get him.

The moment we came back, Mao was back to normal, friend to the world. He had obviously been right because we were back … ergo, it must have been because he drove The Invader (Frank) away. Logical, yes? After that, Mao attacked everyone who took care of the house in our absence. He was the terror of Our Crowd. It got increasingly difficult to get someone to take care of things while we were gone.

The years moved on and Mao moved with us. There were children, jobs, bigger houses, dogs. Life. We held celebrations … big Thanksgiving dinners. One memorable occasion, we had a full house including a dozen and half people and featuring a huge turkey. When the turkey was roasted, I put it out on the counter to set while I moved food in the dining room and greeted arriving guests.

Thanksgiving006

I wasn’t gone 10 minutes. When I got back to the kitchen, Mao was on the counter, finishing off a drumstick. Its remains were still attached to the turkey — a ragged, conspicuously gnawed hole. Not the presentation I had in mind.

The husband and I consulted. We agreed and served the bird as it was.

“What happened to the turkey,” asked the friends and family.

“Mao got to it,” I said.

“Oh,” they said. “Pass the bird.”

It was a good Thanksgiving. Mao was some cat.

Daily Prompt: Rocks, boulders, life

Asking for help is easy. Getting it may not be.

I don’t mean getting someone to review your post or help you carry a heavy box up the stairs. Those are easy things, no big deal. You’ll happily do such things for anyone, even a near stranger … and they for you.

What about when you can’t manage the basic stuff of life on your own anymore? When a bag of groceries is too heavy? When the stairs to your apartment loom like Mount Everest?

Ask you family for help? Think about that. When was the last time one of them offered to help? When have your kids volunteered to lend a hand when they weren’t looking for some cash? They’re busy. Maybe they can find a little time around Thanksgiving. Or New Year’s.

“But I need help today! I need to do some cleaning. I can’t do it myself.” The silence is deafening.

Who will offer to help? The people who can barely take care of themselves, who have lives full of caring for the needs of others. They will find time. People who give because it’s in their nature to give. The rest? It’s painful enough to have to ask … much worse to be told “no.”

Growing older has nasty psychological components and plenty of good, solid reasons for fear. Real issues of being left to the care of unfriendly strangers, unable to physically manage the day-to-day tasks of life are terrifying. There’s nothing psychological about them. No amount of thinking them through is going to make them disappear. The tasks they represent are not optional.

96-Breakers-HP-5

Everyone needs food, medicine, trips to doctors. Sometimes, we even need to just get out of the house and see that there’s still a world out there.

Everyone would rather not need help. Universally, people prefer to be self-sufficient. The problem arises when that’s no longer an option and suddenly, the world has a frozen, dark look. It’s not your world any more.

The realities you’ve always managed on your own, automatically, without assistance are real rocks. Boulders in the middle of your life, immovable. Huge, heavy, solid. Waiting. And there is no simple solution. Maybe, there is no solution at all.

Daily Prompt: Local Flavor: Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight

I live in a small town in the middle of a lovely valley. Someone asked me what there is to do around here, which got me to thinking about all the cool things there are do in our town.

Beyond - Benches

I realized this was going to be a very short post.

Here’s the list of cool things to do in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Note: Everything except number 2 are warm weather activities.

  1. Walk the to the middle of town. Watch the water flow over the dam on the Mumford River.
  2. Attend a pancake breakfast at the fire house.
  3. If it’s not winter, go to yard sales. Find bargains. Buy some.
  4. In summer, go to a drive in. Bring lawn chairs. Sit outside and watch a double bill.

That’s it. But the scenery is  really lovely everywhere in all four seasons, so it’s a great place to take walks and photographs. We have a lot of churches. And you can go to orchards, pick your own apples and even cut down your own Christmas tree. Sometimes, you can watch the wild turkeys attack your car. You can’t do that in a big city!

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Night In The City

Boston, Massachusetts: the evening of December 2012.

Boston Commons and Statehouse-HP-1

Overlooking the Commons

There has been just enough rain to make the streets shiny, but it’s just a drizzle really. The city always strings lights on the Commons and all around the Statehouse right after Thanksgiving, so they’ve been up for a couple of weeks already.

Not a white Christmas this year, at least not yet.  We’ve had a couple of little snows since then, they were dustings and melted off in a few hours.

Old South Church from Boston Commons

Tonight, it was cold, but not bitterly. This is the middle of Boston — old Boston, the Boston of Paul Revere and Sam Adams — in soft focus. No hard edges in the dark. And here’s a little music to go with the pictures … a song I loved long ago.

The Commons, lit for the holidays

Boston at night ... by the Statehouse, across from the Common.

Boston at night … by the Statehouse, across from the Common.

Turkeygeddon: The Thirteen Best Turkey Attack Videos

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

Turkeys: traditional holiday roast, are some bad-ass birds. Turkey attacks are apparently quite common: wild turkey populations are on the rise, with around 3 million of them in the US. According to experts, birds that “get accustomed to suburban life apparently start to see people as other turkeys” and naturally defend their turf.

Should you have the misfortune to happen upon a vicious turkey, here are some tips gleaned from the videos below: sticks are a good defense. Mailmen are not, as turkeys are known to “have something against the US Postal Service.” Hide in your car. Do not taunt them. Try to appear less like a rival turkey. If you’re dealing with a group of turkeys — called a rafter, a gang, or, less formally, a gobble — well, good luck.

Last year was all about the best deep-fried turkey disaster videos, but here now, the thirteen best turkey attacks videos around. Ordered by the level of terror — from a little scary to absolutely terrifying.

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Great videos for your Thanksgiving enlightenment.

On a personal note: You can’t make this stuff up. Last summer,  a turkey attacked me while I was in my car. They don’t call them turkeys for nothing. They’ll take on anyone or anything! Watch the skies, Keep watching the skies!!

See on eater.com

Not yet Thanksgiving, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Thanksgiving is still a week away, but you wouldn’t guess it around here.

The television stations are preempting shows we like with sappy Christmas specials, many of which are decades old.

Meanwhile, around the valley, the nurseries and grocery stores are displaying wreaths, baskets and miniature Christmas trees. Yes indeed, the merchants are gearing up for what they hope will be the annual spending orgy.

Typically, the stores in this area wait until just after Thanksgiving to start selling Christmas. But there’s a recession, in case you somehow missed it. Most folks around here are broke, so I guess the local shops believe we need extra time to get serious about spending money we don’t have.

These photographs were taken today at the local grocery store. It’s only the leading edge. There’s a lot more to come.