First Thanksgiving of the season

I have always harbored a certain resentment that holidays are defined as certain days, and since I worked retail for a decade, I adopted the attitude that holidays and celebrations happen when people gather not on a certain date or on the fourth Thursday in November.

My foster cat godmother gave us an 18-pound turkey and as I was a vegetarian for about eight years until my carnivorous daughter was born, I have never cooked a turkey. And it felt like this was the year to try.

I did some internet research and got the bird out of the fridge only to discover that my cheap refrigerator had frozen part of this damn turkey and even after soaking it in hot water we had a terrible time getting the neck from the chest cavity.

But luckily the teenager is stubborn like her mother and got the neck out, which looked and felt disturbingly phallic.

Teenager with a bird neck

I assembled the coleslaw by placing cabbage, radishes and carrots in my Ninja food processor. I made a honey mustard dressing.

I slathered the turkey with butter, purple pepper, smoked paprika, poultry seasoning and sage and placed it in the oven. I “basted” it every thirty minutes by recycling the juices from the drip pan and wiping them across inside the bird with a pastry brush.

Then I whipped up the corn bread and placed it in my neighbor’s oven while I assembled the green beans Caesar and the sweet potato crunch.

I didn’t have enough pecans so I put some mixed nuts in the Ninja and that made my nuts more like nut butter. That was the only real “fail” of the night. But I liked it.

I heated up some corn and made some butter-sage turkey gravy from scratch. Nan brought some cranberry sauce. And Darnell and Amber were kind enough to stop by and rescue me when it came time to carve my bird.

Teenager #1 made a deliriously good batch of homemade mashed potatoes.

I heated up some corn and the spaghetti squash I grew in my compost heap.

Jan stopped by with her ladyship Sobaka and we had three teenagers in the house. That felt good.

The Rocking Chair

When I was a girl, our house had a fairly plain rocking chair in the living room.

As a girl, I never really thought about it.

And then, when I got pregnant with the now teenager, my friend gave me a rocking chair that was the same basic rocking chair.

I was tickled.

My mother-in-law made cushions for it to match the enchanted forest-themed nursery. (The teenager has never painted over the mural.)

Gradually, when breastfeeding and rocking a grumpy baby was no longer a thing, the rocking chair went down stairs.

The cats like it.

And as the house seems to get smaller, now the chair is on the enclosed sun porch.

Do you know how hairy this chair gets with four cats?

I finally realized today that I could remove the cushions, not just vacuum them. After all, my mother-in-law made the cushions so we could be comfortable with the baby.

The baby just turned 16.

I removed the cushions. I’ll wash the covers and maybe I’ll put them back, maybe I won’t.

How many of us cling to habits or things because we just haven’t realized that we don’t need them or that they don’t serve a purpose?

The rocking chair looks good bare. More appropriate for the porch.

Sometimes we need to stop for a minute and learn to recognize when we are functioning on auto-pilot and not in response to our current environment or situation.

Encounter at Nearpoint

Tonight, the teenager and I are watching the pilot episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, “Encounter at Far Point.” We ate some of our gourmet Double Good popcorn that the teenager sold to pay for her marching band trip that has now been canceled.

It allowed me to be a little punny with my title— as while the Enterprise explores the far reaches of the galaxy, the teenager and I had our own encounter near home, visiting a dear friend and mentor who may not even realize how key she has been in my personal and professional development.

And she has a beautiful piece of property near us where the teenager could sip their own special lemo-tea and galavant through the sun-kissed woods.

On the way home, the teenager and I stopped at Wendy’s for cheeseburger kids’ meals for dinner as I had some volunteer work to do in the evening— we opted to postpone our proposed vegetarian Mexican dinner.

Between my two phone meetings for my volunteer commitment, I went for a walk with my neighbor. The walk is about a mile and a half, but for some reason it registers as about three miles on the Apple Health app.

Whipped coffee and Facebook connections

The right doses of caffeine and sugar shoot me into the heavens like a rocket ship.

This was the best use of Nescafé instant coffee I ever encountered.

A new acquaintance I met at a Christmas party posted the link on her Facebook page and I bookmarked it.

I decided today was the day.

I was just about to make this when another friend, one who used to be in my writers critique group when the teenager was a small child, called for a long chat. This spirited woman moved away a few or more years ago and as it goes when you’re older than 30, life zips by and five years feels like five minutes and you realize you’ve lost touch with people who meant a lot to you.

This particular person participated in some sort of virtual writing workshop and posted a video of herself reading the opening of her manuscript. I watched the video and remembered this character from our time together and commented how far her voice as an author had come.

That’s how we reconnected.

And if that person wants to share her video, she is welcome to post it in the comments.

PS— I made the recipe as directed but poured *all the servings* of coffee into about 10 ounces of milk. So you may want to be smart and NOT do that. Because my heart is racing.

The Art of Self-Soothing

I haven’t made it a secret that I’ve been struggling. Fitness, stress and work have been heavy on my mind.

And I don’t know about you—but when I’m stressed the habits I need most seem to be the ones that fall first.

First to go is cooking. I love to cook. I love to enjoy a meal. But as soon as I am stressed, I start eating processed foods and pizza, because I like those foods and they are easy. But they take a toll. Even though my weight is healthy, I can still feel the impact of those foods on my body, my stamina, my energy, and my moods.

I’ve worked really hard lately to balance stress eating with healthy eating. I actually brought a frozen dinner to work to eat for lunch earlier this week. I actually crept into my office to eat it in secret because I was embarrassed. I didn’t even enjoy it. I was just lazy.

So I went home and made this casserole:

Now this was a delight: spaghetti squash roasted by the teenager, then I mixed it with tomato sauce, kale, chick peas, feta and Italian cheese blend. I sprinkled in some nutritional yeast for extra vitamins.

Speaking of vitamins, when I’m stressed I stop taking mine. I don’t eat as much at meals when stressed so I don’t have a full enough stomach to take my vitamins. On top of that, then I end up snacking and binge eating chips or Doritos.

Another bad habit when I’m stressed is over-cleaning. In a desperate attempt to control something in my environment, I clean until I exhaust and/or hurt myself.

And if you see me skip a blog entry, that could also signify I’m tapped out.

So how can I self-soothe?

  • Text friends and make arrangements to go out. Today I texted my husband and asked if he could visit me at lunch time. I cried and told him my fears and my struggles. Despite the fact that I asked him to move out in June, and we’ve lived apart with minimal contact for eight months, he hugged me and held me and that made my cry more. I think that was the best hug he ever gave me. He made me feel protected. So I thank him for that.
  • Play with the kittens, cuddle with Nala (my Goffins cockatoo), manhandle one of my older cats or listen to the budgies sing.
  • Watch stand-up comedy. I love stand-up.
  • Shave and moisturize. Something about soft, smooth skin is reassuring.
  • If I’m not going to the gym, I at least need to do physical therapy exercises for my S1 joint in my back and my balance.
  • Write more.
  • Does budgeting count? I hope to do a blog entry on budgeting. I don’t mean paying bills, I mean planning the future use of anticipated income. It also makes me feel in control.
  • Occasionally splurge on a fancy coffee or a treat. But not often enough to qualify as stress eating.

Okay, I’ve shared what I had to share. I’m going to watch some Gordon Ramsay now. Another relaxation technique. Eventually I want to blog about his different shows. He is very prolific.

Tree Trimming Party

Once we got our tree together we had a small gaggle or friends over to decorate.

We ended up with three trees: the real tree, the mini tree of the teenager’s special ornament selection, and the “Who” tree, our artificial tree decorated like a tree from Whoville.

The wines I reviewed earlier:

Wines from the Tree Trimming Party

We even invited some neighborhood dogs, Buddy and Sobaka.

Highlights:

  • The teen’s childhood Christmas compilations including the ones where she sings are still adorable.
  • We lost some of the tree lights and couldn’t find them until the tree was lit.
  • Dark chocolate hummus is very tasty on raspberries.
  • My big dumb cat Oz is always a party favorite.
  • It’s fun to have mismatched wine glasses
  • One second you have plenty of brownies and macaroons and the next they are gone.

And no Christmas tree is complete without a spectacle of putting up the star:

The Debut of the Disco Star

Trimming the tree (and soft debut of our living room)

I think I’ve stunned my friend Gayle, whose known me for more than 20 years.

My new burst of holiday spirit is of concern to her.

The teenager and I worked really hard this week to prepare the house for our tree-trimming party last night, an informal tradition meant to counterbalance my anti-Christmas energy.

We really needed a few more days to finish the painting and what not. But life doesn’t always accommodate. When you plan a gathering, especially at the holidays, you can’t shift the date because you only got one coat of paint on the walls.

The featured photo in this post is my neurotic habit of dissembling the taps and soaking them in hydrogen peroxide before a party and scrubbing the caulk with an old toothbrush before a party.

This is going to be a mini-blog entry. An introduction. Because I’m behind on blogging.

Last week I attended the Hess’s nostalgia day and toured the Hollywood costume exhibit at Allentown Art Museum. I would love to tell you about that.

And then show you how the living room is shaping up.

And then tree trimming.

So stay tuned. My goal for today is to do several loads of laundry, update my budget book after getting my nails done yesterday, buying wine, and purchasing a tree. That reminds me! Add wine review to that list.

    Allentown Art Museum
    Living Room
    Tree Trimming
    Wine review from party: Apothic Sparkling Red, Rib Back (from Western Cape South Africa) and Franklin Hills Cake