Meleagris gallopavo Rides Again

Robin and I are in complete agreement … this has been a perfect autumn. Low and slow and drawn-out. As the leaves turned they remained on the trees for the longest time, giving us multiple opportunities to drive around in the rural and check them out. The temperatures have uncommonly dropped below 50 in the daytime, so far. And the sun shines nearly always.

What has been completely missing are freezing drizzle, early blizzards, ice storms, typhoons, hazardous sidewalks, plagues of frogs, power outages, and the endless leaden skies that drag one’s spirit down. So the winter solstice is only a month away and we haven’t even had to break out the SADD light yet.

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From The New Yorker

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Thanksgiving looms. We’re not going anywhere and no one is coming here. Being in fresh post-op mode for us means staying in and not even trying to be entertaining. Yesterday Robin walked to the mailbox and back, but these exercise periods are always followed by an increase in discomforts, although they are important for recovery.

Pain and swelling are still big issues a week out from surgery. At this point a person could be understandably wondering if this is the new normal, but then you realize that if it were, no one would ever have the operation. Robin is the poster girl for postoperative bravery, but even that stiffest of upper lips might quiver for an occasional second here and there if you look very closely.

For myself, I have taken on the position of UPN (unlicensed practical nurse) with my customary flair. My skillset expands daily. I don’t know if there has ever been a better bearer of ice bags than I am, or a finer fluffer of pillows. The dietary department here at BaseCamp has responded to the slightly changeable appetite of the recovering patient with flexibility and aplomb. When yesterday morning Robin said that good old hamburger soup seemed the right thing for supper, within a short while enough of the stuff for twelve persons was ready to eat. Overshot that one a bit.

We are doing a traditional menu for the day, even if each part is scaled back considerably. Our guiding principle is that there is no Thanksgiving dinner leftover that is not tasty and delicious. So a turkey breast, some mashed potatoes, a bit of stuffing … all are in the works for Thursday. There may even be a yam with a melted marshmallow on top … who knows?

One difference this year is that the pumpkin pie will have come out of the grocer’s freezer. I have no skills when it comes to baking. Cakes fall or fail to rise, piecrusts are suitable only for use as coasters, cookies become hapless scorched discs. I am willing to attempt almost anything else, but please don’t ask me to bake. It makes me nervous to think about it.

When I was playing around and learning more about cooking after my divorce, I tried a few desserts. There were three failures in a row of pineapple upside-down cake before one came out that was inelegant but edible. Then there was that cherry pie which never set up on the inside, so that the filling simply ran out like water when you cut it. And lastly more than one chocolate cake that had the general slope of a ski hill from one end of the pan to the other.

You can see what fun I had before I gave up on the whole enterprise!

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Our gratitude list is something that we pay attention to pretty much throughout the year, although especially in November. This year I am grateful that since I was unable to avoid becoming an older gentleman, that there are repairs available that were absent 50 years ago.

Robin and I both can see beautifully because someone figured out how to address the problem of cataracts (otherwise we’d be going around bumping into things all the livelong day). Medications can relieve blockages in arteries for stroke victims if they get to the emergency room quickly enough, or I probably wouldn’t be putting together this mess of poppycock each week. Crippling arthritis can be relieved for some people, even though the getting to that relief can be an ordeal.

And that is on top of all the rest of our blessings, which are countless.

To top it off, some of my wishes came true with regard to former president cluck. He was ushered out of office, just as I’d hoped. But he didn’t get that incurable rash with the Old Testament grade of itching that I was sort of counting on. I guess you can’t have everything.

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While typing the above I was playing the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack in the background. As usual, when the tune “The Wings” came up, at a certain point tears formed, even though I was not consciously thinking about the movie. Such is the skill of the composer.

I can just see Gustavo Santaolalla sitting at his desk there back in 2005, writing the film score, pointing to a group of notes and saying to himself – now right there is where everybody cries.

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From The New Yorker

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The other day I purchased a small jar of jam. It was called “Willamette Raspberry Preserves.” I thought well, cool, maybe it’s from somewhere near where grandson Dakota is out there in Oregon. And then today I read the rest of the label, where it says “Product of Belgium.”

Robin’s observation when I indignantly reported this misleading labelling to her was “Maybe that’s why it tastes so good. Because it’s Belgian.” I thought about that for a minute, and realized that I didn’t personally know a single person who was Belgian, and I knew only three Belgians by name.

The first one was King Leopold II, who I learned was guilty of instigating policies that led to countless atrocities against the natives of the Congo. So this is not a “good” Belgian reference at all, and is perhaps one of the reasons that raspberry growers in that country have not brought out a King Leopold Brand of jam.

The second one is Hercule Poirot, an exasperatingly fussy detective who solves crimes that stump lesser minds. But here’s the thing – Poirot is not real but a character of fiction so can hardly be used as an example of typical Belgian-ness. I’ve seen at least three movies in which he was portrayed and I don’t recall raspberries being mentioned in any of them. If there were, I suspect he’d complain about the seeds.

The third one is a horse. They are very strong, have awfully large hooves, and that is all I know about them. They have nothing to do with raspberries at all.

Therefore one could say that my ignorance of things Belgian is nearly encyclopedic. But, you know … their jam is darned tasty.

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To All of Thee: Happy Meleagris gallopavo Day!

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