Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Today is Sunday, November 30. This is the last of a week-long vacation from work. Much of the first part of vacation week was spent preparing for Thanksgiving Day - family coming in, shopping, cleaning, baking. Thanksgiving Day was wonderful. We gathered at my oldest brother's home. He and his wife know how to host a dinner party.

We started at 1:00 in the afternoon with cocktails of pink Florida gulf shrimp, creamy brie and crackers and a toast of sparkling champagne. Eighteen of us seated on the patio at a table beautifully decorated in seasonal colors. Norbert had smoked a turkey and a ham - which requires the usual comment, "I'll bet it was hard to roll.." followed by the usual groan. Mary Anne's stuffing or dressing - which ever you are accustomed to calling it - was EXCELLENT. The stuffing is the only thing I do 'seconds' on. I grew up on my mother's giblet and sage stuffing, and have never known anyone to make it even close to Mom's - except me, of course - and Mary Anne's was just as good. We had the traditional green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, corn and peas. And sweet potatoes. I'm not sure what this dish was called, it was a new recipe - which was orange shells stuffed with mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Interesting, tasty, but a little too sweet for me. We talked about past years, always trying to recall "was that the year that..." followed by who was here, wasn't, where we ate, the games we played - "no one can leave the table until they've told a story". (this was done to keep the then younger ones from leaving the table too soon). Gradually the chairs emptied, and “dibbs” on the couch echoed through the house. Father and daughter as bookends!

The food was covered and stored, the table cleared, dishwasher loaded and it was about 4:30. We grabbed sweaters and jackets, beach chairs and a beer or wine or spirits of choice, and walked down to the beach. The annual group shot:

Then the kids teamed up for some touch football.

Gradually the sun dipped below the horizon:

We trickled back to the house and sliced up the Pies! Two pumpkin, two pecan and two apple, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I had also made some orange glazed pecans which were unusually tasty and quite well liked by one nephew in particular. Every Thanksgiving when it’s pie time, the story is told about a girlfriend of brother Ken’s who was a guest at my sister, Debbie’s house. When the pumpkin pie was served, she was the first to taste it. She loudly exclaimed, “ACK! That’s AWFUL!” It seems that the second pie missed the sugar, and Debbie quickly admitted it. But we all never got over how Jeannie reacted, thinking that perhaps she could have been more tactful!

Post pie had several gathered around the dining room table with cards and chips playing Texas hold’m

After several rounds, and various players, the trivial pursuit came out. It was about this time that I went home. A full day, a full belly and a desire to slip into my bed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

...for the birds....

Gracie. Isn't she a beauty?

So I was outside marveling at nature, when the birds decided to visit the bath:

and then LO and BEHOLD!

A Pileated Woodpecker!!

A lovely Day!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Of pecans and pet and other things

My employer gives each of us a personal day and birthday off each year, and it's a "use or lose" condition. Every year as my birthday approaches, I remember I have two days that need to be used. Offices are closed Thanksgiving and the Friday after, so with the addition of one vacation day, I have this whole week off. Today is Tuesday, and it's difficult for me to remember that. Saturday I got up early (too early for me!) and donated items to a charity yard sale. The rest of that day was most uneventful. Sunday was very productive, accomplishing many household chores. Yesterday was relaxing with a nice mix of puttering in the garden, surfing the net, power walk on the beach and shopping for pie-making stuff. ( We'll have thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house, but I'm the pie baker - 2 pumpkin, 2 apple, 1 pecan and 1 chocolate pecan.) Last night I made frosted pecans and orange glazed pecans.

A note about pecans. First, do you say, "PEE-cans" or "peh-CONS"? All my years in the south, I say PEEcan. My daughter dated a young man who grew up in south Georgia and his folks had a pecan farm. He says "peh-CONS". After his last visit to GA, he brought back several gallon-size bags of pecans, semi-shelled. I popped them in the freezer, for such a time as this to enjoy baking with them.

Today is off to a lazy start. The weather is to die for gorgeous. My brother gets in late this evening driving from NY. My daughter gets home from Tampa this evening, break from school. Part of me wants to shop for an outfit to wear on Thursday - in the mood for something new to wear. That is most unusual for me, as I am not a clothes-shopper... not a go-in-a-store-and-try-on-clothes shopper. I shop via www. click move to shopping cart and check out. I sit here looking out at the brazilian pepper trees with their bright red berries, and I want to buy wreath frames to make holiday decorations. I am also sitting here looking at the paleness of my skin - when was the last time this body saw any real sunshine?!!

And then there's Gracie.

Y'know I just love her, but she's a bother. She's really just a baby at four months old. Constant. even though she has her own bed, she prefers mine. And not just my bed, but she has to be RIGHT ON TOP OF ME. We're still working on the housebreaking... with minor success. She sort of gets it - sometimes. She is a very good rider in the car, which is surprising. When I went grocery shopping yesterday, I took her with me and she sat quietly. I of course was nervous that the teething puppy would like the BRAND NEW LEATHER SEATS of my brand new Honda CR-V. But she behaved, thank goodness! She is quite willfull, I'll give her that. I've raised and trained several dogs in my lifetime, never one with such a strong will as this little girl. This is my first Weimaraner - maybe it's the German in her...

One thing is for certain, nothing is getting done with me sitting here, so it's off to get the day underway! Enjoy yours!

Monday, November 17, 2008

MannHeim SOO Fine!

As I began easing into this past weekend, my conceptual plan was gardening. Since FPL removed so much vegetation out back, it’s really quite sunny and I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the western exposure. I was going to move most of my potted plants, whack down the stickers and stretch out / repot some plants. Then I began reading some subscription e-mails I get, and one was from concert I”d had it several days or a week, and decided to read it instead of just delete. There it was: Mannheim Steamroller The Christmas Show Saturday November 15, 2008 8:00 PM Broward Performing Arts Center. I bought two tickets for will call, and went on and ordered up a room. Just as I was buying the tickets, Lauren, Kevin, Sarah, Brent and Kelly showed up here, and it was Brent’s birthday and we had tequilla and fun. Sarah has a new puppy, and so does Kelly! Both Labs - Sarah’s is yellow and Kelly’s is chocolate. So it was a puppy party. I had scheduled an appointment first thing Saturday morning in town to get the windows tinted on the CR-V, so I figured I’d figure out the logisitics later.

Saturday morning I went in to town along Metro Parkway. There’s a stretch along Metro that is as close to an industrial zone/park as Lee County has (imho). I walked into the shop that was to tint my windows, and it was obvious they did not have a waiting area. The shopkeeper mentioned a café just a few stores down, and I took him up on it.

These folks are smart. It’s called The American European Bakery. The Bakery is behind the café. The front showcase was full of baked goods, the coffee corner was to the left and there were several tables and booths and several diners. It was 10:00 AM and I grabbed a menu. I say these folks are smart because all the shops along this stretch of Metro are auto repair, tools supply, flooring, etc. So many folks like me need a place to wait while “stuff” is getting done. I ordered the smoked salmon bagel and a cappucino. It was absolutely delicious, more food than I could manage at a super fair price and the café was doing an excellent business. Smart.
Windows tinted, I got back to the Beach around noon thirty. Mind you in my mind I was asking myself what the efff.. did I do last night, buying two tickets and a hotel room… I proceeded with the plan, though, asking Lauren and Kevin to care for Gracie. I put some outfits in a bag, printed confirmations and google-mapped directions.

I love my car. I have to say that because I have not loved a motor vehicle in a very, very long time. I love my Honda CR-V. And now with its new shades, I’m ready for the TC striping… We cruised over the Alley as if we’d caught the tides just right, coasted into the self-park, checked in, and headed for the ice machine.

I showered and dressed, while the TV played the History channel with an episode on the antichrist. Most interesting, actually. I left the hotel 7:15-ish and with google maps in hand, headed to the concert. I followed the directions and found myself next to a driveway and a sign that said something like Event Self Park and pulled in. $12.00. (I read that online the night before). The funny thing is that part of my plan was to use valet parking (only $8 and a tip more) because of being a single female, a stranger in a strange land and in high heels… But I self-parked and merged in with the flow heading to the Performing Arts Center. It was a four or so block walk - no big deal, glad I wore the shoes I did. Will Call was clearly labeled, without any significant line, and I got my tickets within minutes. Inside it was really quite gay with the bar stations , the souvenier and food sales. I bought a small pack of warmed cashews, found my row number, and headed in to the auditorium.
If One was the most expensive and Five was the cheapest, the tickets I bought were a Three. Haha. I was surprised when I walked in, that I had an aisle seat, left of center. The Center was packed like sardines, yet the section in which I sat - had a dozen or so empty seats. I felt special - in an aisle seat, with a great view ,and no one to crowd me!!

Not only was I “by myself”, but I was clearly, “by myself!”. I sat in row LL and there were two people in row JJ, noone in KK,, me in LL… and later two people in MM…
As the music began, I sat through each song recalling how I know each song in my head, as I’ve listened to these tunes over and over again for 20 years. Each performance was so perfect that I found myself focusing on individual musicians/instruments/ performances to see if they were indeed playing, and it was not pre-recorded music. They were, indeed, playing and it was magnificent.
When I returned to the hotel,it was shortly passed 10:00. I went quickly to my room, although I would have loved a nightcap in the lounge. I watched stupid TV for a couple of hours and then called it a night.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eleven Eleven and Other Events

Today is Tuesday, 11.11, Veterans' Day. I had a friend who once told me that whenever I see 11:11, to know that I am loved. It was a priceless sentiment, that brings me joy usually twice a day. Today by virture of its date is very special.
Being veterans' day, I visited my vet, Dr. Patterson. Time for Gracie's second set of shots, and a first good check by her vet. He told me that blues tend to have a skin problem...great. I've decided that Gracie will not! Her coat is beautiful and shall stay that way!

Being an employee of the public sector, today is a recognized holiday. I am so anxious to return to some normalcy. With the upcoming holiday season, it may be very difficult to acheive anything resembling normal, but I shall try.

The weather is beautiful - cool in the early morning, with the high noon sun warming enough for beach goers. We truly do live in paradise. I'm caught between have-to's and want-to's... I have housework and homework to do, and I want to garden or go to the beach. I have a book I'm anxious to finish and some quiet time on the beach in this warm Florida sun, with Gracie snugly by my side...
sounds ideal.
We shall see what the day brings!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

catch up...

What happened to October? Where did it go.. October has traditionally been a very active month for me - most recently active in not-necessarily-enjoyable-events. It seems the last I recall, it was late September and I was preparing for company from up north, and a trip to St. Augustine as part of my career development. The day after returning from st. Augustine, mom was taken to the ER. That was October 12th. The venitlator was removed on October 14, and we were fully prepared for her to pass within hours of that. She died on October 28. What makes the Spirit "decide"? What did mom do for two weeks - in her mind, her spirit - her other world. She spoke of demons and angels, of not knowing what to do, of not being ready or of trying very hard...of calling for help, asking for prayers, asking for mercy.
I am one of ten of her children..number seven (the seventh child of a seventh child). The fifth child, Mary Beth, was murdered in 1981, and in mom's last days, she spoke to her - so they were together in spirit. The remaining 9 of us gathered for her viewing, catholic service, cemetary and then back to her house after the service. Emotions ran high. We're all very strong willed and opinionated. I bit my lip, gritted my teeth and walked away ...frequently. Six of the nine do not live locally. One of the three of us who does - is - mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged. That leaves me and brother Norbert. Trying times, indeed.
I would like to tell you about the "airing of the quilts." and hope that I can put it together for a later entry. In brief, Mom was a master quilter...award winner, featured in Quilters Magazine, TV appearances and many ribbons' winner. Mom had nearly a hundred quilts, wall hangings, various handiwork that she left. We "kids" decided that her estate would be sold and divided nine ways, but that the quilts would stay in the family. We put nine slips of paper in a dish, numbered one through nine, and each seniority. And then we chose quilts until all the quilts were gone. My sister, Debbie, coined it: "The Airing of the Quilts" and it's touching, indeed, and I will write it, complete with a photo or two.
Until then, I wanted to add an entry as it seems i've neglected my journal.
Have I even told you about Gracie!?!
She's a love ! I need to submit photos!!
Until I can rally again,
Thank you my friends for being here for me.