Thanksgiving Is In Your Heart

When I hear the word THANKSGIVING the image of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting immediately flashes through my head… Smiling family members gathered around the dinner table as the turkey, cooked to perfection is brought to the table.

Rockwell-freedom from want

This scene is repeated time and time again in households all throughout the United States. I’d love to say this scene was repeated year after year at my home… but I can’t. I have had some untraditional, yet wonderful Thanksgivings throughout time… and this year is no exception.

With my family scattered to the far ends of the US and Canada… I bailed on the last remaining NJ child and headed to Florida for a vacation. Through the generosity of family I am living the life of luxury in a beautiful home in the sunny south… by myself.

Over the years Thanksgiving dinners have evolved from stiff, uncomfortable affairs at my grandparent’s (with my brother shooting peas under the table at my legs), to large informal dinners hosting out-of-town friends at our home.

One year, after stuffing ourselves with turkey, my husband jumped up from the table and yelled, “Hurry! Hurry! Get in the car!” Thinking the house was on fire we all left the dirty dishes and ran outside. That was the year we began the tradition of going to the movies… Home Alone was starting in just a few minutes. As time moved on, each of my children took their turn working at the local theater (Yea, FREE movies!) and so I have been known to provide a full Thanksgiving spread for movie theater workers in their break room.

There are so many memories… like the year the dog pulled the turkey off the kitchen counter and had his own feast, and the year I was hosted by a family who also hosted Phineas and Ferb (Disney Characters) who were performing in NYC. One year we all were crazy and decided to go into New York and see the parade LIVE. Or the time my son-in-law wanted to use his new whipped cream maker and it shot all over!!!

Although my turkey and stuffing are picture perfect and tasty… I am known for my pies… Apple, Pumpkin, the occasional Pecan, and… drum roll please… ‘The Chocolate Cream Pie Mistake’. This last pie was developed totally in a fit of panic. My brother specifically requested a Chocolate Cream Pie for dessert… so I bought the ingredients and began making it the night before… late… after the stores closed. Much to my dismay, I made a deep dish pie crust, but only had enough filling for a standard pie crust. The pie looked sad. In a flash of genius I opened the cupboard doors and surveyed what I had on hand… and began dumping things into the pudding filling. Suffice it to say the main addition was a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with some flavorings, more cream and such. Crossing my fingers I placed the doctored pie in the refrigerator over night to chill… and figured I’d fill in the remaining gap with whipped cream when it came time to serve it. WOW! What a surprise! The pie was the hit of the evening… not to be upstaged by the turkey of course.

Ahhh…. Memories. Well… this year will certainly go down into my book as something to remember. I believe this will be the very first Thanksgiving I am sharing it with total strangers instead of family or friends.

I had many options of where to eat turkey today. Many local restaurants are serving grand dinners by reservation, but that didn’t interest me. The place I am staying is also hosting dinner, both formal and informal. I gave serious consideration of this option, knowing I am a friendly person and would easily be able to strike up a conversation with my table mates and have a delightful day. But no… I do that on a regular basis, every time I eat out. Hmmm… I could always volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Nah.

THIS YEAR… you will find me eating turkey and breaking bread with an unusual group of people at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers, FL. Who are they???? I have been invited to join the World Class Sandcastle Sculptors who are here competing for the title. Me! I don’t speak all their languages, but with the help of translators I’m sure we will all get along. Anyway… isn’t Turkey a universal language?

I wish you ALL a Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are… or who you are with! After all… Thanksgiving is with you all the time, it’s in your heart!

GOBBLE! GOBBLE!!!

UPDATE!  The weather is way too nice! After visiting the sculptors I decided to head to the beach and bask. Speak about basting the turkey! I have a reserved seat at the movies this evening, keeping THAT tradition alive.

Flatware Snob

Am I the only one on this planet who is fussy about their flatware when they eat out??? I’m talking about forks in particular.

If I go out to dinner with you, and the tines on my fork are bent, I expect you to switch with me. Yes! Really! I do! I’m not kidding. Nothing ruins a night out more than the feel of that one ‘out of line’ tine scraping against the roof of my mouth. If yours is bent too I have no issue with asking the wait staff to provide me with a better  fork.

While attending my daughter’s food tasting in Disney for her wedding I had to ask for the fork to be replaced not once, but three times!!! I quietly motioned to the wait staff, smiled sweetly, and in a sing-song voice explained my fork was bent and asked if they would please exchange it for another. The replacement was also bent, so I repeated the process. The next replacement was also bent! Again, I smiled, and even added a little giggle and waved the fork. Finally! This one was fine. I’m sure he spit on it.

Oh, and the WEIGHT of the utensil is important too. When you hold it in your hand, it should have a nice ‘feel’ and weight to it. It should be balanced, and the tines should come to a dull point. So many forks now-a-days have tines that are cut straight across. Ewwww! I get chills at the thought of placing that in my mouth.

I don’t expect great flatware when eating at well-known food chains, or mom and pop type establishments… but if I’m out for fine dining and the dinner check is expected to be more for this one night than my entire food budget for the month, then the flatware shouldn’t be… well… how to put it… uh… flat!

I am sure you have eaten with ‘flat’ flatware many times. You know the kind… it’s like the shape of a fork was stamped out of a sheet of aluminum then a slight bend was pounded in the handle. Yeah… that’s what I call FLATware.

My personal set of flatware took months of searching before I found JUST what I wanted. Okay, okay, it took years. But I DID find it!! Truth be told… I would have purchased a set sooner if they weren’t so damn pricey. Typical of me to want the best, but not actually pay for it. I ended up buying a rather plain set from Reed and Barton. Not only was it half price, but I had a coupon for an additional 25% off!!! Yippie!!!

This morning I noticed one of my forks had a bent tine. HORRORS!! I tried bending it back into shape… to no avail. Since I have enough flatware to serve 16 people, I simply tossed the fork in the china cabinet and will use it when less fussy company comes.

BTW… as a guest in someone’s home, I am not fussy at all. I will eat with whatever you choose to use. I am thrilled enough to be spending precious time with you… and will joyously eat whatever is served, HOWever it is served. As a matter of fact.. I don’t even give it a thought. Huh! That’s weird.

Do YOU have any quirks? Please share!

 

 

Fishing… Me???

Recently I jumped at the chance to take a sudden trip with a friend to North Carolina… who promptly made the following declaration, “I want to spend one day fishing. Want to join me?”

Ummmm… Well… Cough… Sputter. “I’ve never been fishing before, but I’m willing to give it a try,” was my response. It was further explained they meant OCEAN fishing and I was warned the seas could get rather rough this time of year. That didn’t sway me… I breathed deeply, pasted a smile on my face and said I didn’t care about the rough seas.

The day came, and frankly I was excited. Getting up before the sun didn’t bother me at all. Packing up lunch, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, crackers, and water took just a few minutes. We arrived at the boat as the first mate was gearing up.

Assuming I was going to be the only female on board I made a remark about being the only fisherman that day wearing sparkly nail polish. Although 2 other women arrived, I took an impromptu survey and found I was still the only one with glitter nails. Go me!

Underway the captain gave us a little welcome speech. The most important message was to head to the deck if we felt sick, explaining the fresh air would do us a world of good and if you felt the need to throw up he pleaded for us to hit over the railing. There was a hose on board, so if you didn’t make it to the side, it could easily be hosed down… oh… and not to be embarrassed, as it happens all the time… even to the best fishermen.

To say I got seasick isn’t quite accurate. I got ‘queasy’, but never to the point of wanting to lose my breakfast. I was one of the lucky ones. Two others on board couldn’t hold it in. Thank heavens I packed a ziplock bag in my tote bag ‘just in case’. I offered it to a fellow mate, and let’s just say it came in handy… more than once.

For half the trip I felt it best to just lie still… letting the boat’s rocking, rolling, and pitching lull me to sleep. When I felt steady enough to balance myself to walk, I headed outside to sit in one of the fishing chairs. Enjoying the view, looking for whales and dolphins, lifting my face to the sun was wonderful. If I never caught a fish I didn’t care… this moment was so beautiful. Then WHAM!! A pole went stiff! A fish was on the line!

The first mate grabbed the pole and shoved the handle in to the hole between my legs in the chair. I grabbed the pole with both hands. ACK! Now what??? My friend came behind and instructed me to start reeling. How exciting!!! As I cranked the reel, they guided the line and continued to instruct me… until the fish came on board. It was a Mahi. I’ve eaten those before, but never caught one! Woo! Hoo! My next one was TUNA!!! I’ve never in my life seen anyone catch a tuna… and here I was, on the other end of the pole reeling one in. OK… It wasn’t big… and didn’t give me a fight… but it was exciting just the same.

Fish haul

As the day went on everyone took turns reeling in the catch. I’m told it wasn’t a great day fishing… but to me it was FABULOUS! Over all we caught 313 pounds of Tuna (yellow fin as well as black fin) and Mahi. There’s something amazing about catching your own food… providing your dinner on the table. However… unless fishing is your livelihood, then bring your wallet, the day wasn’t cheap.

Would I go again if given the chance? Yes, in a heartbeat! I’ve even watched a few episodes of Wicked Tuna and enjoyed them! But I’m not rushing out to purchase a boat, rods, and reels. As far as putting food on my table, I think I’ll try my hand at gardening.

Fishy Fingers

LOOK! Fish scales!! It proves I actually touched and held the fish! They sparkled!!!

 

 

CBS Sunday Morning

A lot of people spend their Sunday morning in their favorite house of worship.  I’m not one of them. Oh… over the years I have spent many Sundays wiggling my rear on the hard wooden pew benches or metal chairs… but mostly our family spent our Sundays on the river, racing sailboats and enjoying the fresh air and salt water.

My oldest brother would watch CBS Sunday Mornings in the winter, and as a teenager I remember scrunching up my nose, rolling my eyes and thinking, “How bor-ring, SNORE.”

Then I grew up.

Fast forward through my life… through getting married and having a family of my own… through my husband’s illness… through starting and running a business just to pay the mounting medical bills and keep my head above water… through the foreclosure on our family home… through my kids growing up and moving on… to moving to my little bungalow on the lake.

Before I moved to the lake, I would spend the weekends here at a friend’s house, healing and recovering from the shock my life has become. I reveled in the quiet and slow life. Sundays were carefree… no one needed anything from me. I could sleep in as long as I wanted… something that I haven’t experienced in my entire life. I would stretch, roll out of bed and be drawn downstairs by the aroma of fresh coffee brewing. CBS Sunday Morning would be on the TV. Ahhhh…. life as an adult at the lake. Could life get any better?

When I finally got a place of my own… I realized how important that Sunday ritual had become to me. A time to relax, go slow, drink in the day, heal, reboot… and be enlightened by Charles Osgood and all the other CBS reporters. I now make a point of watching the show every week, and DVR it when I can’t be home.

I most enjoy the human interest stories showcasing regular people doing extraordinary things. For example, this morning’s show had segments on ‘Beep Baseball’ for the blind, A ballet created for a fallen Marine, and a family dealing with their young son’s gradual blindness. All three stories tugged at my heart. The blind baseball player was on the World Championship Beep Baseball Team and beamed with excitement and pride as he told the story. The ballet was created by the mother of the fallen Marine to send a message to surviving Marines to ‘continue on’, make each day count, don’t be guilty you survived but instead DO something with the life you were given. The parents of the boy losing his sight are preparing him for the future… to be able to ‘see’ with his memory as they explore the world together in a family van. Each story brought tears to my eyes.

I believe everyone one of us has a story… and I am so thankful CBS Sunday Morning brings these unsung heroes to my attention on a weekly basis and touch my soul.

Do YOU watch CBS Sunday Morning? If so… what is YOUR favorite story?

Until then, I’ll see you on the Internet                                                                (an update to Charles Osgood’s closing).