AFTER THE TURKEY

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I’ve learned a lot over the years. By my calculation, this is my 49th year of making Thanksgiving, not counting a few years when I was a guest at someone else’s table.

I remember when the torch passed and my parents no longer wanted the job. Suddenly, they were just as happy to eat my food. I knew at the time this was a significant change in our relationship, that something important had changed.

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Since then — 40 years later — I’ve been making holidays. Although my son does the cooking, or most of it anyhow, he still doesn’t know how to make the holiday. How to set a table, figure out which dishes to use. Which flatware. Whether or not to put out the “good” glassware (but unlike me, he knows on which side the forks go versus the knives).

And despite them being among the easiest recipes in the world, no one but me can make the cranberry sauces.

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Things I’ve learned after 49 years of family dinners:

  1. Don’t get a big centerpiece. It takes up too much room and will be in the way when people are trying to converse.
  2. Not only do place settings not have to match, making each setting different is a very cool “look” (though I didn’t do it this year).
  3. No matter how many people you have coming to dinner, there will be much more food than even the hungriest crowd can possibly consume.
  4. Don’t save the mashed potatoes. No one is going to eat them.
  5. The turkey will be fully cooked at least an hour before your calculations say it will.
  6. If you cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, it will taste like sawdust and no amount of gravy will make a difference.
  7. Buy a fresh turkey, not a frozen one. It’s worth it. Fresh turkey tastes so much better!
  8. Put a clear plastic cover over your good tablecloth. Your guests won’t mind and gravy does not come out completely, no matter what formula you use to treat the stains.

When I’m feeling ambitious, I get more creative with table settings. I have a lot of “fiesta ware,” bright, solid-color dishes that mix and match with other pottery. I’ve given away my 16-place-setting porcelain. Storing it took up more space than I was willing to devote to something I used maximum twice a year.

I don’t buy expensive stemware. It’s not that kind of crowd.

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I don’t bother to point out no one is going to eat that much food. Don’t mention that nine pies for seven guests is a bit much. My daughter-in-law is Italian. I’m Jewish. My husband is Black. Excessive food is a cultural and genetic mandate. Please eat. Please overeat. If you don’t leave the table feeling slightly ill from over-consumption, I haven’t done my job.

The good news? I can put together a nice looking holiday table in under 20 minutes. Add on another half hour because I have to wash everything. I haven’t used it since last Christmas and dust will have its way. Still, that’s pretty good.

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Gone are the big floral displays, the fragile serving dishes. The stemware broke and was never replaced. Ditto the serving dishes. A nice table is welcoming. A super fancy, overwhelmingly elegant table is less so and can be off-putting.

Less fuss means I don’t end the holiday exhausted and cranky. I might just survive through Christmas. Imagine that!

A SOLIPSISTIC STATE OF MIND

Never Too Late — Is there a person you should have thanked, but didn’t have the opportunity? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.


 Solipsism (Listeni/ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/; from Latin solus, meaning “alone”, and ipse, meaning “self”) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

I am in a solipsistic state of mind vis-à-vis WordPress. You are outside of me. I deny you. I deny you. I deny you. I just can’t do you anymore. The Daily Prompt is over for me.

Just a note about the actual prompt: Yes, you can be too late. People die. Move on physically, mentally, or emotionally. Your window of opportunity — the time to communicate — closes.

Writing a post on WordPress years later does not change a thing. Maybe it will make people think you’re special because you wrote about what you should have done but didn’t. Does posting a belated thank you on WordPress fix that? I don’t think so!

As for me, if I failed to thank someone, it was an oversight. I’m pretty good about thanking people. I go long on gratitude.

I’m reasonably sure I’ve done due diligence in the gratefulness department. Not everyone who I’ve thanked was touched. Not everyone likes being thanked. Some folks were not interested in what I had to say. But I said my piece, if I was permitted.

The-End

Speaking of too late: It’s too late for me and these prompts. The bloom is off the rose. I’ve been insulted and dissed by WordPress one time too many. I tried to ignore it, get past it, but I can’t. So …

I’ll have to write about other stuff. Oh, wait, I already write about other stuff.

To all of my friends with whom I shared the fun of writing our various approaches to the same prompts, don’t be a stranger. I’m not doing the Daily Prompt, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And if any of you want to start creating prompts, I’ll be there with bells on, participating with enthusiasm and verve!

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: THE OTHER PEOPLE IN NORMAN ROCKWELL’S AMERICA – JANE ALLEN PETRICK

Freedom_from_WantThis beautifully written book about Norman Rockwell, the artist and his work focuses on the non-white children and adults who are his legacy. The book will be an eye-opener for many readers despite the fact that anyone who goes to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts — or seriously looks at Rockwell’s body of work — can see that Norman Rockwell never portrayed a purely white America. This country’s non-white population have always been there, even when he had to more or less sneak them in by the side door.

These people — Black people, Native Americans and others — are not missing. Rockwell was passionate about civil rights and integration. It was his life’s cause, near and dear to his heart. It is merely that the non-white peoples in his pictures have been overlooked, become invisible via a form of highly effective selective vision. Despite their presence, many people choose to focus on the vision of white America and eliminate the rest of the picture. Literally.

The author tells the story not only of Rockwell’s journey and battle to be allowed to paint his vision of America, but also of the people who modeled for him, both as children and adults. She has sought out these people and talked to them, getting their first-hand experiences with the artist.

It’s a fascinating story and I loved it from the first word to the last. HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT is available on Kindle for just $3.49. It’s also available as a paperback.

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From the Author

Whether we love his work or hate it, most of us think of Norman Rockwell as the poster child for an all-white America. I know I did. That is until the uncanny journey I share with you in this book began to unfold.  Then I discovered a surprisingly different truth: Norman Rockwell was into multiculturalism long before the word was even invented.

Working from live models, the famous illustrator was slipping people of color (the term I use for the multi-ethnic group of Chinese and Lebanese, Navajos and African-Americans the artist portrayed) into his illustrations of America from the earliest days of his career. Those people of color are still in those illustrations. They never disappeared. But the reason we don’t know about them is because, up until now, they seem to have been routinely overlooked.

For example, in her book, “Norman Rockwell’s People,” Susan E. Meyer catalogues by name over one hundred and twenty Norman Rockwell models, including two dogs, Bozo and Spot. But not one model of color is named in the book.

Another case in point? “America, Illustrated,” an article written for The New York Times by Deborah Solomon, art critic and journalist In honor of (an) upcoming Independence Day, the entire July 1, 2010 edition of the paper was dedicated to “all things American.”

“America, Illustrated” pointed out that Norman Rockwell’s work was experiencing a resurgence among collectors and museum-goers. Why? Because the illustrator’s vision of America personified “all things American.” Rockwell’s work, according to the article, provided “harmony and freckles for tough times.” As Solomon put it, Norman Rockwell’s America symbolized “America before the fall.” This America was, apparently, all sweetness and light. Solomon simply asserts: “It is true that his (Rockwell’s) work does not acknowledge social hardships or injustice.”

The America illustrated by Norman Rockwell also, apparently, was all white. Seven full-color reproductions of Rockwell’s work augment the multi-page Times’ article. The featured illustration is “Spirit of America” (1929), a 9″ x 6″ blow-up of one of the artist’s more “Dudley Doright”-looking Boy Scouts. None of the illustrations chosen includes a person of color.

This is puzzling. As an art critic, Solomon surely was aware of Norman Rockwell’s civil rights paintings. The most famous of these works, “The Problem We All Live With,” portrays “the little black girl in the white dress” integrating a New Orleans school.

One hundred and seven New York Times readers commented on “America, Illustrated,” and most of them were not happy with the article. Many remarks cited Solomon’s failure to mention “The Problem We All Live With.” One reader bluntly quipped: “The reporter (Solomon) was asleep at the switch.” The other people in Norman Rockwell’s America, people of color, had been strangely overlooked, again.I have dedicated Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America to those “other people”: individuals who have been without name or face or voice for so long. And this book is dedicated to Norman Rockwell himself, the “hidden” Norman Rockwell, the man who conspired to put those “other people” into the picture in the first place.

NOVEMBER ON WHITINS POND

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Whitins Pond, November 2014

Just when I thought the glorious fall was over for good and all, we had yet one perfect afternoon in mid November. The pond is full again. The rains came and filled it.

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Houses on Whitins Pond, almost twilight

While the swans have been absent, mallards seem to be everywhere. Maybe they are taking advantage of the absence of the swans to take over that piece of pond. They were too far for me to photograph, but I could see them. It’s nice to see birds again.

Twilight on Whitins Pond in November
Twilight on Whitins Pond in November

FIFTY THINGS – A WORLD FROM WHICH TO CHOOSE

Share Your World – 2014 Week 47

Since this is Thanksgiving in the USA this week, I thought I would celebrate all week.  There is only one question this week and here it is.  I haven’t made a list like this in a long time.  I used to do it fairly frequently.  I hope you want to play along!

List at least 50 Things You Enjoy.  Here are some categories to inspire your thinking.

  • Activities
  • Restaurants
  • People
  • Foods
  • Games
  • Drinks/Beverages
  • Desserts
  • Paintings
  • Web Sites
  • Writers
  • Famous lines from books/movies.

I have too many things to list individually and too many categories. Or not enough. Sometimes there is a thin line between the two.

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I’ve had to give some thought to this to see if I could stay focused on important stuff and not end up with a list full of trivia.

Stuff I Do

  1. Laughing with people I love (You know who you are and I couldn’t live, wouldn’t want to live, without you.)
  2. Reading
  3. Listening to audiobooks
  4. Writing
  5. Taking pictures
  6. Hanging out with dogs
  7. Movies and television and anything Star Trek, or with horses.

Eating Out

  1. Japanese food and Wanakura
  2. Chinese food

Favoritest Authors

  1. Gretchen Archer
  2. James Lee Burke
  3. Kim Harrison
  4. Jim Butcher
  5. Jasper Fforde
  6. Douglas Adams
  7. And many others, too numerous to name!

Let Music Fill the Air!

  1. Folk music
  2. Country music
  3. Classical music, especially orchestral and piano
  4. The Beatles
  5. Tom Paxton
  6. Judy Collins
  7. Credence Clearwater Revival
  8. Really, that’s just the tip of a huge iceberg of music.

Munching

  1. Crystallized ginger
  2. Cheese
  3. Mango
  4. Kiwi
  5. Pears
  6. Peaches
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Salty, crunchy things
  9. Spicy things
  10. Hot pepper jelly
  11. English muffins
  12. And more and more and more!

Furry Creatures

  1. Dogs
  2. Cats
  3. Horses
  4. Pretty much anything with fur or feathers!

Literature

  1. Science fiction
  2. Fantasy
  3. Urban fantasy
  4. Anything that makes me laugh
  5. History
  6. Police procedurals
  7. Mystery
  8. Time travel
  9. Audiobooks
  10. BOOKS!!!

Oops, out of room. You see what I mean? But it could also be just a few things … because I like reading and that covers all the genres, authors, audiobooks, and everything else. There are so many way to do this.

Rather than saying I love books or reading, I could say I love that little crackle a brand new books makes when you first open in and that whiff of printer’s ink.

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I should mention that not only do I love taking pictures, but I love cameras. And autumn, because that’s my favorite time to take pictures.

I could start naming all the people I love, one at a time and probably run out of room before I got to anything else. Or start listing favorite movies and TV shows. I never even got to them and I have a whole bunch of movies and shows I love.

There is a lot to love in this world of ours, in this period of time we call life. I’m glad to still be here, on this earth, in this world, with all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!