Five for Friday: A Very Fine Thanksgiving, Indeed

This year there were new traditions, with a few old ones thrown in.

Among other things we had pumpkin bread,

a most excellent salad,

and stuffed shells.

This all led to a plateful of food.

And last but not least, dessert!

Good thing for our waistlines that Thanksgiving comes but once a year.


A Time to Be Grateful

As noted in yesterday’s post, in the United States, we celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. This holiday always falls on the fourth Thursday in November. It’s a time to eat (usually a lot!) and give thanks for the good things we have.

I’m not going to mince words. For progressives, this has been a very difficult year, and because of this, it hasn’t been easy to count blessings. The worries, ranging from nuclear war to dismantling the Affordable Health Care Act, are not trivial.

Nevertheless, there are blessings to be counted. So far, this country is at peace. So far, the Affordable Health Care stands. So far, there is a free press that hasn’t bent to those in power.

On a more personal level, I have a snug house, a loving family, and a terrific library that allows me to go far while staying home.

I also have a wonderful circle of friends. Today, I want to give special thanks to my blogging friends who have enriched my life is so many ways. Through pictures and words, I travel near and far, I learn new things, and I am immeasurably enriched by the creativity—in all its various aspects— of my blogging friends.

So many, many thanks to all my blogging friends. You not only enrich my life, but you also remind me that there is still much that is good in this world.


A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

All right. I have a confession to make. I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving dinner. I know, I know. This makes me sound, well, Un-American. After all, this tradition is in honor of the gathering of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans way back before there were green bean casserole and sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. As legend has it, in the 1600s, everyone came together to celebrate the harvest festival. (This sounds a little too jolly and pagan for the Pilgrims, but what the heck. Maybe it’s true.)

And so it has gone, with the food changing over the years. When I was young, we had a meat and potato stuffing to go in the turkey and a medley of different vegetables. In the week before Thanksgiving, my mother baked like a crazy person, and her fudge was, in a word, incredible. (I often wish I had a fraction of her energy.)

I am sorry to say that for me, with my sweet teeth—never mind tooth—the fudge was the best part of the meal. I have never liked turkey that much, and mashed potatoes are a little too bland for my taste. Turnip and squash are all right, but my heart doesn’t leap with joy when I see them on the table.

Then there is the work. Oh, there is plenty of it, and everything must come out at the same time and be reasonably warm. Usually, by the time the food is ready, my appetite is nearly gone. After that comes the clean-up, and when it is all over, I feel like lying on the bathroom floor for an extended snooze. (A friend’s mother has done this, and my sympathies are with her.)

Last year, Thanksgiving was particularly rough. Shannon and Mike were in North Carolina, and Clif and I had been working hard on Maya and the Book of Everything. When Thanksgiving was done, I felt even more exhausted than usual, and I was seriously considering going out to eat this Thanksgiving.

But eating out at Thanksgiving is expensive—at least $100, including the tip, for two people—and it’s just not as cozy as being at home. What to do, what to do?

Dee, our New York daughter, is a vegetarian, and it suddenly dawned on me that my life would be significantly better if we had a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, say, stuffed shells or baked ziti. Because while I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving dinner, I am a huge fan of all things Italian, and the baked pasta dishes can be—wait for it!—made ahead the day before Thanksgiving.

This notion made me so giddy that I thought, “Well, son of a biscuit, I could even make a chocolate cream pie on Thanksgiving morning if the rest of the food was ready.”

And so settling on stuffed shells, I proposed the alternative Thanksgiving dinner. Dee was all for it. She doesn’t eat turkey anyway, and our friends Alice and Joel, who will join us, are good sports and very flexible. However, now we come to Clif, who LOVES Thanksgiving dinner, but he, too, was a good sport and agreed to my stuffed shell suggestion.

But I could tell he was a little sad, and last night we had a quasi-Thanksgiving dinner of breaded chicken thighs, baked potatoes, corn, and stuffing from a bag. It was pretty darned good, and a snap compared with the real event. Clif’s desire for stuffing was satisfied, and clean-up was no problem at all.

Thus it is that onward, with a lighter heart, I go toward Thanksgiving. The house is reasonably clean, the shopping is done, and we have a plan devised for the rest of it.

I’ll still be making pumpkin bread. After all. But I have a funny feeling that stuffed shells will be a new Thanksgiving tradition in our family.


Five for Friday: A Mummy’s Face?

Today I’m trying something new, something I borrowed from the blog Cimple, which regularly features a post called “A Week In Seven Pictures.” Seven pictures seemed like a lot, even though it really is just two more than five. But I like alliteration, and two less is, well, two less.

I don’t know how long I’ll stick with this—I’m not one for either routines or lists—but for now, here are my Five for Friday.

The winterberries, a species of holly, brighten Maine’s November landscape. They will soon brighten my winter arrangements.

Dry rocks, wet rocks. When will the ice come, I wonder?

Heart and leaves. Happy November!

The face behind the wire. Can anyone guess what this is? And, no, it really isn’t a mummy’s face.

The last of the leaves to be raked. We’ve raked about three quarters of the yard, and it’s always good when this chore is done. We hope to get them raked by Monday, at least, because Thanksgiving is fast approaching.

Suddenly, the Cold of Late Autumn

This year September, October, and even early November have been so warm—balmy, in fact—that when the cold weather came in a rush, it caught me by surprise. Before that sneaky devil of a windstorm¬† knocked out the power to nearly a half-million homes in Maine, Clif and I had brought in all the furniture and lawn ornaments. So in that sense we were ready.

But, as of a week ago, we still hadn’t had a hard frost, and I felt no sense of urgency about dealing with the potted plants outside. Silly me! Now the soil in the pots is frozen hard, and unless the rain comes to soften it, I’ll have to bring the pots down cellar to thaw.

I hope I have learned my lesson. For the past five years, Maine autumns have been markedly warmer than they were in the past. But this doesn’t mean the cold weather won’t come. It surely does, suddenly rather than gradually, with little warning. Changes, changes, and it is time for this old Mainer to adapt.

Regardless of the warm weather, the bright leaves fell right on schedule, and now we are into the russets of November. After the burst of mid-fall, some people find this landscape too monotonousness, too austere, but I am not one of them.  Instead, to me, the countryside is soothing, lovely in its plain garb.

There is no better place to appreciate this than by Maranacook Lake, and yesterday, on my way to pick up the Sunday paper, I swung by the public beach for some pictures.

In the background are the lovely russets of the oak leaves, and the white specks on the float are seagulls. Maybe they should be called lakegulls as they seem to be permanent residents.

Here is a closer look.

Then I turned my attention to the trees and bushes, stark yet beautiful.

In this season of thankfulness, I am ever so grateful to live in a place that has four distinct seasons. All right, there are five seasons if you count the muddy misery of March, but right now my focus is on gratitude rather than resentment. Plenty of time for the latter when March rolls around.

Fortunately, March is many months away. For now, despite having¬† pots with frozen soil that probably will have to be hauled down cellar to thaw, I’ll take in the serenity of November, a month that surely knows the long, dark cold of winter is coming and is more than ready for it.

A Ray of Hope

I know. I said I wasn’t going to post this week, and this will be a short one. But the recent election has made me so hopeful that I just needed to write a little blurb about it. In Maine, voters approved a Medicaid expansion, which will provide health care to low-income folks who cannot afford it on their own. And, as the New York Times put it, Trump and his ilk were whupped big time in states such as Virginia and New Jersey.

I know. The tide can turn again. But for this one day, I am going to allow myself a ray of hope.

And here’s a picture that captures the way I feel right now, bright and full of color.

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