I thought for a moment my girl had gone all Right on me. Somewhere in conversation someone- probably me, probably complaining about health care- started bad mouthing the U.S. of A. And the Snarl piped up that she was pretty sure this was the best of all places to live. She began pointing out all of the things that we are free to enjoy around here and all that we are free to do and become. As it happened we were just pulling into the parking lot here, at Ft. DeSoto Park at the southern tip of the St. Petersburg beaches.
I don’t really know if this is the best possible place to live because I haven’t been around all that much. I’ve been to the South of France and it’s pretty darn special but way too pricey and not really designed for day-to-day living. I’ve been all over the Caribbean and Central America. Belize is spectacular- and mostly dirt poor. The highways (both of them) have cement poles planted in the middle to keep drug runners from landing small planes on them. I’ve been to England and frankly, between the food and the fog, it wasn’t all that much to write home about. Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands- they’re all pretty nice. Amsterdam was a little too much with such blatant prostitution and naked tight-rope walkers in the park, but that’s just me. I’m sure all those places, plus that wacky Australia, are just fine for the natives who live there but after a day at this beach in good company, I realized that I have so much to be thankful for and this is a very nice place to live.
One thing I am not thankful for is cooking two turkeys on Thursday. For the past three years Dan has been pleading for a deep fried Cajun turkey. I’ve turned him down flat and been supported by The Snarl, who is a real traditionalist.
Tradition around here holds that the cook (yours truly) gets up around 8 am and starts digging around inside the bird for spare parts. After a couple minutes of that and some obsessive hand washing, Julia Child takes over and I begin to hit the sauce. Stuff the bird. Then I turn on the TV and watch bits and pieces of what used to be called the Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now it’s something dumb like WDIV Santa Claus Parade. This calls for more sauce as I reminisce about the good ol’ days when my father was Ford Tractor Division’s liaison with J.L. Hudson’s. Ford provided the tractors that pulled all those gorgeous floats down Woodward Avenue. We would go down the night before and watch the floats get hitched up and lined up in the giant underground warehouse. Okay, back to the kitchen to spray some cranberries and orange juice around the white cupboards (where did the food processor lid go?) as I create my sensationally fine cranberry relish with a splash of Cointreau (and a sip for the cook). No one eats this relish. It sits on the fine white linen table cloth in a beautiful handblown glass bowl while everyone eats the crap in a can "with rings." I almost had the kids converted and then Rich and his family came along so now we have two cans of ringed crap and one lovely but untouched bowl of homemade relish.
Back to the TV room because the cook needs to rest a moment. By this time I’ve muted the idiot parade commentators and I’m weeping because the Ford Rotunda burned down. In 1962. (This memory is central to my NaNoWriMo novel. [No Mo! I got to 26,540 words, the heroine moved into a basement room, became a cellar dweller and it all went dark. I’ll finish it next November.] "The Night Buckminster Fuller Came to Dinner" has a good bit about the Ford Rotunda, naturally. I will elaborate further as part of my Christmas story, but like the Christmas tree ornaments, this can’t come out until the 2nd week in December.) A toast to the Ford Rotunda. Then I usually start giggling because "Rotunda" sounds like a Japanese monster movie character, like Godzilla. A toast to Godzilla. At this point one of the cats usually hacks up a liver or a heart with bits of paper. I thought I threw those "giblets" away. Giblets. Another laughable word. A toast to giblets!
Eventually the turkey gets in the oven, people start wandering in, the cook takes a brief nap and finally we all sit down to dinner. I used to go around the table and make everyone say what they were thankful for but by eighth grade Dan had refined his character, Muhallah, who speaks with a middle eastern accent and renders The Snarl hysterical with laughter. She falls out of her chair as Muhallah gives thanks for various and sundry items and says grace. I’m still a little tipsy so it always seems like a good time to turn up John Williams with the Boston Pops playing "We Gather Together" and the kids boo and hiss and put their fingers in their ears- lalalalalala. And so it goes.
This year one of the bubbas at Wit’s End offered the use of his turkey fryer and 35# of peanut oil turned up in the garage while we were in Florida. Abby snarled at the prospect as did Rich so we are having two-count ’em-two turkeys. This will call for some serious sauce. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.