Thanksgiving in Detail (lots of strokes to this picture…)

The Day Before

There are fourteen of us tonight.  Tomorrow there will be more for the big meal. Our family does this frequently, big gatherings, reunions, and we have expectations.  People will take turns making the meals since we are usually together for several days.  We will take turns  shopping for groceries and washing the dishes.  Beds have been scouted out and stashes of blankets and pillows have been scattered around the houses where we are gathering.  We want to be together, as many of us as can make it, because of one thing we agree on – we are thankful for family.

the reigning seniors and responsible parties
the reigning seniors and responsible parties

I am always a little surprised to hear that many people find us odd, a family that enjoys getting together.  Many people do not have this kind of tradition or this kind of family.  My mom and dad are the reigning seniors.  There is my generation consisting of myself and three of my brothers and their families.  And then there is the youngest generation, our children, ranging from fourteen to mid thirties in age.  They are students, prospective parents, house flippers,  a veterinarian, a geologist, an aeronautical engineer, a vegan, a hunter,  There is a lot of news to exchange and the place buzzes with conversation.

Food is always being prepared or consumed or both.  It seems one meal is barely finished before the next one needs to be started.  There is no room in the fridg.  This year Jon is sharing some vegan recipes with us.  Brother Bob has brought ingredients for his famous muffin breakfast.  Mom has been baking cookies, pies and cranberry bread for weeks.  There is a “happy” turkey (happy while alive, not so much now).  The kitchen is not very large and it is always full of people. We make at least five full pots of coffee a day.  We don’t fit around one table very well, although it is a huge table.

Thanksgiving Day

My family is staying in a snug 2 bedroom condo a few yards away from the one my parents live in.  My mom is an early riser and when she’s up and making the first pot of coffee for the day she turns on the outside lights.  I wait for that signal before going over for a moment of quiet reflection and planning.  Since FOOD is going to be the  name of the game most of the day, she had a breakfast casserole ready for the oven.  Loaves of bread and bagels were ready by the toaster.  It wasn’t long before the crowd assembled – and then the food was gone.  Fortunately we have a nearly seamless way of moving on to the next eating experience.

There was a brief break in the eating while we made a call to my aunt in Florida to sing happy birthday to her.  Actually we sang it twice – once on her voice mail and one live performance when she called back.  She is 90 and knows how to use a cell phone. Kudos.

.I am so glad the younger crowd embraces cooking with gusto.  I am so glad that Walmart is open on the holiday.  No matter how much planning takes place, with this many people, something is always missing or running out.  After a trip to the store the kitchen was again crowded with  Jon, Jamie and Julie turning out Buffalo Cauliflower, Killer Veggie Tray and Guacamole Supreme.  The turkey got bathed, dried, seasoned and placed in the oven to cook, leaving room for the Tofurkey to slide in beside it later.  The dressing was mixed up and put in the crock pot.  The potatoes were pealed.  The pies were set out to thaw.

a moment in the constant flow of food prep
a moment in the constant flow of food prep
wash, peel, chop, arrange, cook, stir, EAT
wash, peel, chop, arrange, cook, stir, EAT
potatoes enough for an army
potatoes enough for an army

1:30 pm

The football game is underway, accompanied by football food.  Today we do not have hunger to tell us what time of day it is.  Everyone has their favorite snack and drink and we are hoping that the continual trickle of food does not hamper our enjoyment of the grand finale.  My latest “chore” was getting the next jigsaw puzzle prepared for the afternoon.  It is a tradition at our gatherings to do puzzles and we have done two already.  There is a bonding that takes place between those willing to devote hours to staring at little pieces of cardboard.  We know who we are.  The last one was 2,000 pieces and we could hardly fit it on the table.  This next one is only 1500 and I’m hoping it will last through the evening.

this was an awesome puzzle!!
this was an awesome puzzle!!

My brother who lives in this area has left to be with his wife’s family as they celebrate the holiday a few miles away.  Somehow a miracle will happen and they will eat two Thanksgiving dinners back to back.  I am in the quiet of my condo, me and the turkey.

There is no end to the things I am thankful for.  How is all this possible? It is not a matter of deserving this plenty, this comfort, safety and fellowship.  There are many others who should have more, but don’t. I also have to consider that we may not always have what we have now. But while we have it, let us not forget to be grateful and generous.  The memory of these times, precious times, might be what sustains us in the future. I’m just sayin’ it’s best we pay attention.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Changing My Mind

Changing My Mind

My mind needs to change.

I have been of the mind that serious health problems belong to other people but not to me. I have always worked activity into my life effortlessly – I love to move. I have grandparents who lived into their 90’s and parents who are still living independently. I have weighed the same, within a few pounds more or less, all my grown up life. I don’t worry about what I eat, am seldom ill, am probably a type A multi-tasker, go years between doctors appointments. To all appearances I am a healthy person.

My human nature doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on the diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer in my family history.

Last week I decided to fill out a health survey. One of the questions was to compare blood triglyceride values from past years to the present. I didn’t like what I saw. I went on to look at cholesterol levels, HDL, and LDL. Again there was an alarming trend. I have also noticed a rise in my blood pressure from my usual quite low reading to a higher “normal”. I don’t know how much of this, if any, is normal for me as I age. I’d like to think these changes could go away.

I think I’ll start by admitting that the better eating habits we’ve been adopting aren’t just for the husband, they’re for me too. No more hiding stuff to eat after he’s gone (did I say that, really?) No more reminding him not to eat what I’m eating. And now I’ll not just be walking the husband, I’ll be walking the self for exercise.

The thing I’m really worried about is butter. I’m a little worried about Half and Half in my coffee but I’ve already decided that cutting down a bit on the caffeine would be better for me so that tablespoon of cream is not too bad. But butter, hmm… I love butter.

I read that overuse of NSAIDs can affect blood pressure and that’s another thing I’ve done in the last few years. Ibuprofen has been my friend and how I miss it when I lay off for a few days! But I’ve already decided to get used to hurting a little bit more and maybe taking things a little easy to avoid some of those hurts.

My goal is to see those numbers in my lipid panel improve.  And I’m pretty sure it starts in my head, with a change of mind.  If anyone out there has done something that really worked well, please share it with me.

Just Peachy…

So, my employer takes full advantage of anyone going from Atlanta to Sarasota on I-75 in June and asks them to turn off at Georgia exit 142. Five miles west is Lane Southern Orchards.  The family has been operating their store/packing company for five generations and it has become a very impressive place, and a wonderful side trip for travelers.  Early peaches are being sold now and that is what my employer wanted me to get for her.   I had to get a couple boxes for myself as well.

We had some vicious rainstorms during our travel that day and got to Lane Orchards just in time to load up the peaches and have supper at their cafe. My salad was so big I had to divide it into two meals to conquer it.  And of course, we had to have peach cobbler, with ice cream. Of course. The husband’s only complaint was that there was too much peach and not enough cobble. I didn’t mind that.

This is the second day since we bought the peaches and they are just starting to get soft enough to enjoy eating.  They are soooooo good and if you are local to me you are probably going to want to stop in at my place and have a peach. Do it. I don’t mind.

I'm giving them a prize for having the neatest, cleanest, prettiest place around... just sayin'.
I’m giving them a prize for having the neatest, cleanest, prettiest place around… just sayin’.
This is a variety called Carored and they are perfect looking peaches!
This is a variety called Carored and they are perfect looking peaches!
I am full after about a third of this Lane Cobb Salad.
I am full after about a third of this Lane Cobb Salad.
Warm peachy cobbler, melting ice cream, already half gone.
Warm peachy cobbler, melting ice cream, already half gone.