A week of Thanksgiving and Frustration

Thanksgiving week in our lives is full of birthdays and family gathering. Five of us celebrate birthdays in a 9 day span, with one born on Thanksgiving Day and celebrating her 11th birthday this year again on Thanksgiving Day. Son 1 came for a week, preparing me a scrumptious birthday dinner and then offering to cook again another night, again preparing a gourmet meal. Grandson 1 came a few days later to be here for Thanksgiving. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we drove to Weathertop Farm to pick up our 19.36 lb turkey. Nearly a decade ago, after reading about spatchcocking chicken, Son 1 and I decided to spatchcock the turkey. The first time, we lacked the proper tool to do it, but managed and learned that it produces a delicious, golden, juicy bird in less than 2 hours cooking time and we have never looked back. Though I have managed to spatchcock a couple alone, it is Son 1’s “job” to butterfly the bird and rub the herbed butter under the skin, then he also is the carver when it is done.

As this year, granddaughter wanted Thanksgiving at their house for her birthday, Son 1 and I went over early enough to prep the turkey and for me to work with daughter to get the rest of the meal prepared together. Son1 and Grandson 1 went on a bike ride then returned home to pick up hubby and bring him over. Eleven of us gathered, enjoyed our meal and birthday celebration together.

Early, very early, the next morning, Son 1 was put on the bus to the train to go home to finish out his semester of teaching and working on a project for the Dean. And the following morning, early, but not quite as early, Grandson 1 was put on his bus home.

Today is Daughter’s birthday, the last of this flurry. She has to work all day, so we are going to take her to lunch tomorrow.

The birthday girls with another of daughter’s awesome cake creations for her girl.

Right at the time when eggs are needed in quantity for holiday cooking, the hens all decided to blow their feathers at once. The just cleaned coop has more feathers than wood chips at this point and egg production has virtually ceased. Two of the girls molted a bit earlier than the others, so one or two eggs about every other day appear, but I actually had to purchased a dozen and a half during the holiday to make pie and breakfasts.

Christmas decorating at our house is always on hold until after daughter’s birthday. It used to begin the day after Thanksgiving because as an educator, I always had a long weekend to get it done. As soon as she was old enough to catch on, she decreed that it had to wait until after her birthday, which only seemed fair. The snowman pillows, ceramic snowman, and sled were brought out already, the dried flowers pulled from my fall wreath and put in a vase and three carved wooden birds added to the wreath with a plaid bow, but other decorating will wait, maybe for a while. December is bittersweet for me. It ends with the holiday that represents family to me, but it is also the month in which both of my parents passed away. This year we enter December after 3 months of stress, doctor’s appointments, treatments, and pending treatments for hubby. Yesterday’s treatment was postponed due to a side issue, this is the second time that has happened. It should have been his last treatment based on the original schedule, but now he is only half finished with this round. There are still many appointments in our future with the various specialists. It has been a stressful and frustrating period for us.

Many months ago, our aging Mastiff reached a point where he could no longer manage the stairs and settled himself in the living room at night. He will turn 11 in 4 more days, very old for a Mastiff and he can no longer even get to his feet unassisted. A folded beach towel is used for me to assist him getting to his feet. About a month ago, the German Shepherd, who is a few months younger than him fell down the stairs and though she limped around for a day or two, still insisted on coming up when we were upstairs. In the past couple of days, she has fallen down all or part of the stairs 3 times, so a baby gate was erected yesterday to prevent her from coming up. This caused her, an already anxious pup, to be even more anxious as she paced around the living room and dining room for hours. Last night, she even urinated on the floor which she never does in the house. We had purchased the Mastiff a mastiff size bed last year. He uses it as a pillow with about half his body on it, but won’t get totally up on it. Last evening after I took her bed down to try to comfort her, I looked down to this.

She was totally up on his bed, he was resting his head on her much small one. I guess she will adjust to not being allowed to come up and it certainly will reduce the dog hair dust bunnies upstairs.

We continue on, taking one day at a time. That is all we can do. Decorating will happen to some extent when it happens, likely a much smaller tree and fewer shelf decorations, but some holiday festiveness.

Seasonal change

Halloween is done, jack-0-lanterns and ghosts packed away til next year. The wreath on the door was a grapevine wreath with fall ribbon and ceramic turkey and pumpkins shapes so it stayed up until yesterday. Our friends, the wonderful flower growers that come to the Farmer’s Market, Stonecrop Farms moves on from fresh flowers to dried flowers and wreaths this time of year. Hubby suggested that since I had expressed an interest in purchasing one, that I pick out one for my birthday still more than a week away. When we got to the market, there were still several to choose from and though I was attracted to two, decided this one called me the loudest.

It is beautifully full with fresh greens and bright dried flowers. As soon as it arrived home, the skimpy grapevine one was packed away and this beauty hung to grace the door until it fades and the Christmas one is pulled out for a few weeks.

Yesterday was above normal fall weather, following the extreme rain from the late hurricane remnants on Friday, and this morning we awoke to below freezing temperatures, light snow falling, but only accumulating in crevices on the coop, deck, and corners.

It continued with light snow showers throughout most of the day. We managed our walk in spite of the freezing temperatures, wind, and snow showers.

While we were out, a birthday card was needed as one had been missed earlier in the week. It’s purchase, caused me a head shaking pause. The clerk rang it up, told me the total. I handed her cash, she messed with the register, paused and said, “I owe you (long pause)…” I responded, 95 cents, having quickly done the subtraction in my head. She counted out the change and as I was walking out, she called out to me and said, I owe you more money. No, I responded, the purchase was x, I gave you y, the change was 95 cents which you gave me. “But the receipt says z” she says. No, you gave me the correct change, you rang it in wrong, your register is right, my change is correct. She looks confused and heads toward the manage stocking shelves in the back. Poor girl can’t even make change. I fear for her future in that job.

After arriving home, some dried Amaranth and Eucalyptus that I had purchased fresh many weeks ago from Stonecrop and hung to dry with the idea of making a couple of decorations to sell at the last Christmas Bazaar, the last hurrah for the cottage business, was pulled out. The two tobacco baskets that had been display pieces for yarn and hats at events were decorated with the dried plants and dried Baptisia seed pods from my shrub were bunched and tied with Christmas plaid ribbons and floral wire hangers on the back. Hopefully they will sell and grace someone’s home for the holidays.

At the conclusion of that event, all of my display pieces that can’t be repurposed here will be gone. Hopefully, the stock of hats, mitts, mittens, scarves, soap, salves, and lip balm will be reduced to only what can be used as gifts or for personal use. It will be bittersweet to end CabinCraftedshop, but also a relief to not have to deal with the website, taxes, and deadlines.

The Dust Won

This year it was hard to get motivated to decorate for Christmas, but I did and glad of it. However, we live on a gravel driveway off a gravel road and have two huge house dogs, so the house requires frequent vacuuming and dusting. Prior to decorating, every surface gets wiped down thoroughly, crevices vacuumed, then the Santas, Gnomes, Village, small decorated tree, and linens are brought out. A couple of weeks before Christmas, we go to one of the local Christmas tree farms, pick a fresh tree, have it cut and decorate it. Though it is pretty to look at, all of this just contributes to the mess. The tree goes up between the living room windows and door, so every time the dogs go in or out, tails swat the tree. This one really held it’s needles well, drank quarts of water each day, and was still pretty supple this morning, but every other surface was so dusty I couldn’t stand it another day.

I was awake early and instead of just lounging about, the tree was undecorated. This was challenging as Ranger, the Mastiff decided that since I was in the living room, he would be too and parked right in front of the tree. The stand we bought years ago at the tree farm holds lots of water, so after all the ornaments and lights are off, I have to sit on the floor with a dish pan and a turkey baster and siphon off at least a gallon of water before the tree can be removed from the stand and dragged outside. Usually a trail of needles follow me, but surprisingly few today.

The linens were all washed and folded, the Village dismantled and packed up, the small tree that sits on the jelly cupboard, soft sculptures, nut crackers all packed back in the big plastic totes that store them 11 months of the year. After lunch, the Santas and Gnomes were each wrapped in bubble wrap and packed in their totes. All shelves, mantle, tables, and other surfaces dusted, floors vacuumed and mopped, and Christmas has been put away for another year.

It always makes me a little sad to take it down, but cleaning up the dust, dog hair, tree needles, makes me feel better about the house. Last year, the totes were all stored in a guest room closet, this year, I returned all but two of them to the storage closet in the basement. The two that went back in the guest room are the two with Santas and Gnomes that are just too heavy for me to comfortably carry up and down the basement steps.

The ceramic Snowman and snowmen pillows will stay out until I am tired of snow, that hasn’t happened yet this year.

Soon the pumpkin pie and eggnog will be gone and Christmas will be but a memory. For a couple years, we have celebrated New Year’s Eve at Mountain Lake Lodge, up the mountain from us, enjoying the dinner, party, overnight room, and breakfast the next day. This year, we will stay home, it just isn’t safe to go out. Let’s hope 2021 is healthier and less contentious politically than last year. Wishing you all a healthy, happy New Year.