This Thanksgiving, I spent a lot of time feeling grateful for the special people in my life. Not just the family that was here, but those who are far away or who have passed on.
This giant Turkey platter was your Great Grandma Billie’s, and was on every holiday table when I was growing up. I have recently found out that a dear friend and former student, Sammy Rios, has the same platter. It was her mom’s, too.
This delightful ceramic bread pan was a gift from Bridgett’s mom Donna years ago. It makes delicious bread and good memories, even when Donna is in Fallbrook and we are here.
I was thinking of you and your family a lot, Liza. This silly set of snack plates from your Momma Olga years ago made me smile and think of all our holidays together.
And while I was remembering, I found this photo from Great Grandma Billie’s kitchen in Lompoc, with Grandpa Nelson introducing your Daddy David to the joys of Turkey.
Also from that kitchen in Lompoc, the whole gang! Great Grandma Billie, Uncle Jim, Uncle Tim, corners of Lynn’s and Wade’s heads, me, and Grandpa Phil Conway, with your Daddy David on the table.
It is nice to remember good old times, but I don’t want to get lost in them. There is so many reasons right now to be joyful.
While you and your folks spent Thanksgiving day in The City of Lights, the rest of us all got together at my house in Portland.
After a Turkey mix-up was sorted out (with Laurelhurst Market giving us the best service ever and a fine upgrade) we got everything started and Auntie Katie and Cousins Kestrel and Jasper came over.
Auntie Katie and Jasper taught Bridgett and me how to play role-playing games. The most well known of these is Dungeons and Dragons, of course, but there are lots of others. We were playing Magical Kitties.
We got to make up feline characters with personalities and magical powers, as well as their humans, who had troubles for the kittens to solve. It was fun, and next time it will be even better because we will know more of what’s going on.
We had lots of food, too. The giant half Turkey cooked well in the crockpot, the pumpkin purée got spiced, and veggies were roasted. There was homemade bread, of course. I had baked a regular loaf and four smaller round-ish loaves, which Kestrel transformed into a “bread Turkey”. It was fun, and just as tasty as ever.
We took a long walk after supper, and we saw some lovely Christmas lights (Which I totally forgot to take pictures of, stay tuned), and then back for PIE! Beside delicious apple and pumpkin pies, Auntie Katie made something absolutely new.
This is a Hanishi Custard pie, which is also called Faerie Pie, made with eggs, cornstarch, and vanilla and colored with butterfly pea flowers. It had a Graham Cracker crust flavored with rosemary and lavender. It was amazing; sweet without being sugary, soft and creamy. A Thanksgiving Day triumph of pie.
My contribution to dessert was Grandpa Nelson’s favorite, Pinwheel cookies. The apple and pumpkin pies sat beside them on the counter until knives and forks came out and we ate until we were hopelessly stuffed.
By then, the thread of the game was lost and it was time for the evening to end. We divided up leftovers and loaded our fridge and Katie’s car, hugged our last hugs and headed in for ginger tea and bedtime.
After days of preparation, Thursday was the Go To Day for Thanksgiving. The turkey thighs went into the slow cooker, the mince tarts came out of the fridge, and Auntie Bridgett’s spicy sweet yams went into the oven.
I am sorry to say I didn’t take any pictures of the cooking…. I was busy cooking! I really get into the process and sort of forget to photo document.
When Auntie Katie and the Cousins came, they brought two delicious pies and a turkey shaped challah bread. What a feast!
When we had eaten and chatted, had wine and desserts, we played some guitar, made each other laugh, and watched a movie none of us had ever heard of! Mouse took advantage of some company lap time.
Auntie Katie’s buddy Kitty recommended “Strange Magic”, an animated story about fairies and elves, with modern music and a wry sense of humor. It was just what was needed.
Cousin Kestrel got into her drawing, as usual. She has such a way with a pencil! And Cousin Jasper, using his just-a-few-days-early 12th birthday present, played a game of chess with Grandpa Nelson.
When we were all fed and worn out, we went to our own beds and slept like logs.
I hope you and your Mommy and Dad are having a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am sad that we can’t get together this year, but travel is so expensive and difficult right now that it feels much safer to stay close to home.
We had a slow walk around Laurelhurst Park on Thanksgiving, to settle our dinner and enjoy being out in the world. Laurelhurst was planted in 1913, so most of the trees are huge. It feels like a tame forest and is my favorite place in the city.
This Fall, Firwood Lake is covered with duckweed and looks more like lawn than a pond. It is oddly beautiful.
The old-fashioned lamps look beautiful against the trees in any season.
The bright yellow of birches and ginkgoes brightens up the darkest corners of the woods.
On a day when we were not with friends or family and were feeling a little sad, it was good to get out and be part of the beauty.
We spent yesterday being thankful, and it was a full day. My life has been blessed, full, funny, a bit unusual, and very, very happy.
I am thankful for being alive and healthy. My body at 60-plus years is still running, although a little rusty. With proper maintenance it should have a lot more miles in it.
I am thankful for my dear people. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett love me with all my faults. They are my people to look after and cook for, to play with, to dance and draw and do puzzles with.
I am thankful for my extended family. You and your Mom and Dad, Auntie Katie and the cousins, are not within hugging distance at the moment. But all things pass and before very long we will be hanging out at the Laurelhurst Park, or back on the beach in Monterey together. Meanwhile, we send letters and zoom and know we are loved.
I am thankful for learning. Being able to keep my brain young by learning French, art, and history makes everyday challenging and fun. I have always preached about “life-long learning” but never fully appreciated it until now.
I am grateful for our home here in Portland. This city has been such a fine place to retire, with art, theater, and all the urban buzz. The buzz is muted for a while, but will return with gusto, I have no doubt. And with Portland’s energy and social awareness, that will be a fine thing to see.
I am grateful for Democracy. The American Experiment wobbled for a while, but seems to be righting itself. I am glad to be able to have faith in our country’s future.
We are just feeding the three of us this Thanksgiving, but whatever it is that makes me want to cook, once the cold weather hits, doesn’t care. The Neanderthal instinct to make heat and lots of food is strong.
Tuesday I baked a batch of Oatmeal Everythings. These cookies have evolved over the years and contain oatmeal, whole wheat flour, raisins, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed, and whatever else looks good. We are already up to our eyebrows in food, so these went to the neighbors.
Wednesday was the the pumpkin pie. I found a less sweet version online and gave it a try, using the last of our Halloween pumpkins, roasted and puréed. I found an all-butter recipe for pie crust, because I don’t like shortening. There will be pie crust cookies with the leftover dough, of course.
And on Thanksgiving, of course, the Turkey drumsticks and thighs go into the crockpot early and cook all day. Auntie Bridgett will make sweet potatoes with goat cheese, Grandpa Nelson will open a bottle of wine, and all will be well.
AND…. Auntie Bridgett roasted chestnuts!
Happy Thanksgiving! We all have so much to be grateful for.
Like everyone else in the country, we are having a small Thanksgiving this year. It is just safer, in these contagious times, to be around just us three in the household. I miss seeing you and your folks so much, and visiting the cousins and Auntie Katie. So this year will be….. smaller.
Since we are only feeding us, and Grandpa Nelson is a vegetarian, we bought two Turkey drumsticks and a thigh rather than a big old turkey. We prefer dark meat, anyway, and the smaller chunks are easier to cook and process. They are delicious and have lots of bones for soup, too!
We got just two sweet potatoes, and will be making them with goat cheese instead of tons of brown sugar. It’s something we both enjoy, but not the rest of the family.
Our cranberry sauce will have lots of orange peel and cloves, and is made (of course) from whole berries grown on the Columbia River just about 20 miles away.
We’ll have just a pumpkin pie from our last Halloween pumpkin, unlike last year, when Auntie Katie brought three pies and we made one! That was (just maybe possibly) too much pie. The other holiday baking we will do are cookies for the neighbors. Since most of them are staying home, too, it will be nice to share, via ring and run delivery.
I hope you have a fabulous, delicious, grateful Thanksgiving, and we will see you next year.
I hope you had good food and family for your Thanksgiving. Up here in Portland, we had both.
The day started with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. New York was having such high winds, they almost had to ground the big balloons! But the winds died down and the balloons flew. Auntie Katie and the Cousins arrived, and we had before-dinner cheese and crackers on Great Grandpa Lowell’s coffee table, using my Winnie the Pooh tray and Auntie Olga’s little snack plates. Kestrel declared them SO cute, and she was right!
There were games of Phase Ten and a home made 3- D tic tac toe game. Auntie Katie and I played ukulele and guitar and sang together, and then it was time for dinner. So much food! We ate turkey (carved beautifully by Auntie Katie) horsed around, and had some wine to toast the holiday and each other.
After dinner, Aunties Katie and Bridgett did the heavy work of breaking down the turkey for leftovers and soup, and putting all the leftover food in the fridge, while I put the Turkey skin and bones into the slow cooker with some onions and celery for stock! It will cook for hours and get delicious.
I wanted to go for a walk before it got dark, but the Cousins and Grandpa Nelson decided to stay home and play. We grown up ladies bundled up (it was 42 F!) and enjoyed Laurelhurst Park’s trees, dogs and a large contingent of ducks rustling through the fallen leaves looking for bugs.
Heading home, I showed Katie the “dinosaur infestation” at a house down on Morrison. The lady who lives there, Elaine, collects and places plastic dinosaurs in her heard and trees, and it is adorable! Auntie Katie thought so, too.
It was dark by the time we got back, and Auntie Katie got Grandpa Nelson to play some music. Then we had slices of three pies! My pumpkin, and and apple and pecan from Katie. Yummy!!
Cousin Kestrel made a miniature dinner table out of the Tic-tac-toe game, and she and I set it up for dinner with plates made of tin foil and napkins and food cut from Post-it notes. Auntie Bridgett invited two tiny stuffed crows over for dinner, and it was quite a party, right there on the floor!
We all shared some music, on videos or guitar, ukulele or singing songs that Jasper is learning at school, and eventually it was time to get kids and us to bed.
A bunch of leftovers went home to feed the family, because Auntie Katie will be busy tomorrow, having a big Black Friday sale at Books with Pictures!
Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I spent Thanksgiving in San Diego! We got to meet so many new members of the family, and be with our friends and cousins again.
We flew from Portland to San Diego early Wednesday morning…it was cold and rainy here, but when we got off the plane it was bright and sunny! It always amazes me how just a few hours on a plane can make such a difference.
Auntie Bridgett’s Momma Donna picked us up and we started to work. We dusted Michael’s beautifully fancy dishes and glasses. We made bouquets of flowers for the tables. We played with babies, talked with cousins, and shopped for groceries.
When the house was looking good, we headed for out hotel down by Mission Bay. What a view! In Portland, the colors are grey and yellow…cloudy skies brightened by changing leaves. In San Diego, the colors are BLUE sky and GREEN grass and trees. Of course, everyone there is on vacation, so there are lots of giggling children splashing in the pool.
Thanksgiving day was a celebration of everyone’s specialties. Cousins Isabella and Elizabeth brought origami name tags. Uncle Nick deep fried a turkey, and Uncle Matt smoked one. There was pistachio salad, corn casserole, ham, another great turkey, and two kinds of sweet potatoes, more than enough food for the 36 guests!
Since it was so warm, the dinner table stretched from inside he house right out onto the patio, so as the sun went down we had a beautiful view of the Bay and the sunset, then got to see the lights of the city come on.
By the end of the day we were full of good food, exhausted, and feeling very blessed to have been able to be with family.
The next day we spent walking around Mission Bay, watching people and ducks playing in the water, and visiting Old Town San Diego. There is a long history there, just like in Portland, and there are markets and museums and even a house that they say is haunted. We didn’t see any ghosts, but met Steve, a docent who is a great story teller, who made the history of the Whaley House come alive.
On our last day, Uncle Nick took us all out to Coronado and showed us the helicopters he works on. They are used for search and rescue and are much bigger than I imagined. The kids climbed in and around. It was the last amazing thing in a wonderful visit.
We finally got home after midnight Saturday, and I slept with Mouse the cat on my tummy. Auntie Katie had taken good care of her while we were away, but I think she missed us, anyway.
This morning we woke to rain and chilly weather, but I baked some bread and we walked out for coffee, having a good time, anyway.