Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Evolution of Holiday

We had a very lovely Thanksgiving.  As I've often written, holidays can be a bit melancholy for Wife and I as our kids are so very far away and it is so hard for us to get together.  It is usually hit or miss with our friends since most often they are visiting their kids who are not so far away.  This year we had our good friends Gaius Derf and Agent W along with Cabinet Lady, Dr. Deb and DD's sister. 

It was most enjoyable.  The food came out great.  And everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.  But what a difference in feeling from Thanksgiving as I knew for the first half of my life.  My mother had a family reunion type Thanksgiving that went on for some 50 years until her passing.  Usually there would be 20+ people with various relatives from around the country coming.  From the time I left home to the time my Mother died 6 years ago, I would trek to Connecticut either driving 7 or 8 hours from Maryland where we used to live or flying from Albuquerque.  For the last 8 years or so I was Mom's right hand person in the kitchen and pretty much took over all of the cooking at the end.  It was always a stressful period because my Dad hated these gatherings with a passion.  It was one of the few things I saw them really fight about and those last years I was always in the middle.  It got to a point where I dreaded the event but did it because I knew how important it was to my Mother. 

It was always a bit bacchanalian with the way my family loves eating.  People would have seconds or thirds of each dish.  We made massive amounts of food.  Now fast forward to this year.  All of us are at least over 50 with two couples over 60.  The event consisted of everyone taking a nice controlled (relatively speaking) plate of food, eating, and our sitting around and talking (with plenty of wine though - not much restraint there at least) for another few hours.  It was lovely, calm, sedate.  Not bad mind you, just very different from the memory temple of old.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Cooking Excitment

We are fortunate that we're going to have guests for this Thanksgiving.  With our family all over the world, that is never a given on a holiday.  And Thanksgiving was always a major get together for our extended family while my Mother was living.

Thanksgiving has a tendency to squelch creative cooking because there is such a desire by folks for what they grew up with.  This year I think I'm striking a nice balance between the traditional and some twists on the traditional.

I'm using a salt-curing technique for the turkey which I've done the last couple of years that is a lot easier than brining.  I'm trying a new dressing that is from an Italian tradition using Italian sausage.  I found a sweet potato/butternut squash recipe that has all the ingredients of traditional candied sweet potatoes but is in fact a Sephardic Jewish recipe from Spain (an homage to our recent trip).  And I made two cranberry sauces, the traditional, and a version I made up that is more hot (spicy), sweet and sour.

Should be a great dinner.   I've got the cooking spread out over the three days so I'm hoping to be nice a rested and enjoy our guests.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Avoid Flying on Dates I Am

Evidently my bad air travel karma is expanding.  Not only is it affecting the poor people that are traveling on planes with me but now it is extending to entire airlines!

I'm currently at the Albuquerque International Sunport (our rather grandiose name for our airport) waiting to get on our plane which is delayed because the entire airline's computer system is down!  No computer, no flight plans, no flights taking off.

My advice is that you cross check your future flight plans to make sure they are not on days that I am flying.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Things seem to be heading toward an end game with my Dad.  I say seem because in spite of an expressed desire to die, he does want to let go.  I've really thought about this.  Talked with those who've lost love ones.  And I'm pretty sure that he still has attachments to things/obligations/perceived obligations that are keeping him from letting go.

And there are caregiver issues that are hard to deal with from so far away.  And I'm the only one who can really deal with these so I'll be going back to CT on Thursday hoping to get some things settled but not overly optimistic that I will.

So I'm kind of blah which is not helping my work performance or my energy for exercising which I really need to do.  Nor inspiring my in the way of writing blog posts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Magical Unicorn Pony God Still Pissed :(

Clearly I am on the Magical Unicorn Pony God shit list.

I was returning from scoping out the changes on the Father front (another post) connecting through Washington Dulles.  First leg was fine.  I had a couple of hours to kill.  Went to the gate.  Planes there.  Good.  But then suddenly they say you're leaving 45 minutes later and you're going to a different gate.  Turns out they commandeered the plane for a different flight.

Go to the other gate.  Plane is late coming in.  We're going to be more like an hour and a quarter later.  This is a flight that normally gets me in around 9 PM my time and I have a full schedule with four important meetings two of which I have already rescheduled.

We board the plane.  I get all settled.  Get my music and noise reducers on.  Get my book out.  Announcement.  There is FAA required maintenance check...has to be exceptions.  All of us have to deplane.  It's going to take around an hour and a half.  I learned my lesson from the Chicago trip and get on the phone and book the first flight out tomorrow morning. 

Go to the United Club and buy a nice glass of wine.  Intercom says flight to Albuquerque is boarding early.  Get to gate.  Gulp down wine.  Board the plane.  They tell me I've been upgraded to First.  Move from prior seat to front.  Get all settled.  Music and noise reducer are on.  Book is being read.  Announcement.  You all have to deplane.  Crew has timed out. 

In the gate area they say they are going to put us on a flight scheduled for LA and have the plane make an unscheduled stop in Albuquerque to drop us off!  I've never, ever heard of something like that.  We traipse over to the other gate.  Chaos.  LA passengers are PISSED.  The gate crew has no idea of how to actually get something like this in the system.  Takes them about 45 minutes to figure it all out.  We get on plane and take off around 4 hours late.

Told Wife to go to sleep, I'd take a cab home.  Forgot that cabs stop coming to airport after last scheduled flight comes in.  We aren't scheduled!  Go out at 1 AM and there are no cabs.  Fortunately a security guard calls one for me.  Get home at 1:30 so I can get up for my 7:30 meeting.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pay It Forward

One of the neat things during our trip to Spain was how child friendly it was.  Almost every public place and restaurant always had families with kids.  People always looked at Munchkin with a smile.  We commented on how unlike the US it was.

I was in Chicago changing planes on my way to my Dad who is going down hill, in a pretty morose mood, and was having dinner.  It was crowded.  I was in a section of two tops with just one table next to me.  Along comes a mother with her son who was around 4.  He was clearly a high spirited lad.  Mom sat on the side next to me and had her son on the chair opposite. 

My first reaction was what it would have been prior to our Spain trip.  "Oh geez, I just want some peace and quiet" and would have been sending out all kinds of negative vibes.  But I was watching the Mom who was trying to have her son be quiet when he was clearly excited (I found out they were going to New York because his father had been scheduled to run in the now canceled NY Marathon).  So I told Mom it was totally OK for him to play, and told her of my traipsing my one year old granddaughter around just a few weeks ago.

So then the boy comes to our side (it was a bench).  He sits next to his mother...well not really sits more like perpetually wiggles.  He's pretty shy to begin with but I find out that his favorite thing is superheros.  I want to know who his favorite superhero is but he's more interested in finding out my name and he decides it would be cool if I were a superhero and I totally agree.

We were there another 15 or 20 minutes until we both had eaten.  I was starting to give him a few playful grabs and both he and Mom seemed very happy to be relaxed instead of worrying.  I got up to go and as I'm putting my bag together, the boy comes over and gives me a big hug.  I was glowing.  What a great way to put the blues behind.