Pardon Our Dust

In order to create an awesome omelette, a few eggs must be broken.

I’m standing in front of my laptop with a few crates of eggs, determined to keep throwing them at the monitor until a decent meal can be served to you.

Here I was, all poised to jump into our New Year’s resolutions and realized that I left one of mine (okay a significant amount) undercooked.

I am incredibly good at generating ideas. I excel at starting things. I love to take what is, throw it into the blender and make something totally different with it.

Life is full of possibilities.

If the idea really floats my boat I will stay with it and have a great time.

But like most excitable types, I am easily wooed into the next great idea.

“Squirrel!” cries the brain, and off I run to the next big adventure.

I am surrounded with half finished great ideas.

A lot of them are still in the “scribbled down on sticky notes” stage.

Ask anybody.

If ever I was to have one goal in life it would have to be: Finish What You Start!

Taken literally, this is physically impossible, as the impulse to start things happens every five minutes or so.

But taken rationally, I suppose with some prioritizing I could get just a few main things actually ‘finished’ in a timely fashion.

It sounds painful, truth be told. And maybe messy. Definitely not ‘perfect’.

But really, where should we draw the line with ourselves?

I love myself enough to talk myself into doing the best thing for myself (like going to the gym), and I respect myself just enough to be able to sit through a little pain to accomplish it (“I was just there last week. Why should I come back today?”).

This is the last blog of 2014 and when I meet you on the other side, I would like it to be in the form of a fresher, slightly tastier version of a website.

I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing. It might be a complete disaster before I make something palatable.

But it’s the next step.

So be safe and have fun ushering in a Happy New Year!

I’ll be playing the egg toss game.

I hope I win!

Are We There Yet?

I would like to thank everyone who made this particular moment possible…

The traffic that swarmed the mall next to my house and turned a five minute drive-by into a half hour exercise in patience…namaste.

The mother who made fudge, cookies, and great grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe so I could “sample” it all. The goats who made the cheese that I covered in raspberry chipotle sauce “for our guests” and then ate by the spoonful. The girlfriend who bought me pajamas a size too big…because by this time next week, they’ll fit just right.

The basketball coach who thinks practice never takes a vacation and scheduled out of town tournament games…because he can.

The inventors of Skype who allowed one family party to connect with another family party across countless miles se we could open presents together and virtually annoy each other. The brother-in-law and the niece who each drove many miles, just to make sure the family was together for Christmas so we can annoy each other in person.

The Hubby who thought giving our 13 year old a flying drone in the living room was a good idea.

The doctor in orthopedics who decided not to cast our son’s broken arm for physical therapy reasons but in reality saved us from the stench of a week-old sweaty splint.

You all know who you are.

This moment is just a snapshot of the past few days or so. But it could reflect our year.

Ours is always a bit of a roller coaster, starting off slowly, building momentum quickly, and after the first hairpin curve, we just hunker down in the seatbelt and hold on for dear life.

No one seems to mind if our eyes are closed or if we’re screaming, but occasionally a photo gets passed around of us doing it.

There’s really no need for explaining.

Today is the pause.

The part where the ride has dropped us over the last big dip and is lurching slowly into the docking area. My head is up, my grip on the roll bar relaxing, and I’m seeing the next line of victims eager to jump in and go for the ride. They can have it.

We are just about “funned” out.

New Year’s Eve will be the celebration of getting off this ride and looking around for the next big thrill.

We’ll have the usual gang hanging out with card games and glow in the dark sticks and we’ll go outside for a countdown and then cheer real loud so the neighbors know we gave it a fair shake.

And then go to sleep as fast as possible.

This year was exhausting.

Heaps of fun, of course, lots of gorgeous views from the top of climbs and lots of great company along for the ride. There were a few moments when I thought perhaps we were going to end up hurtling through space without a parachute and several times when I was definitely nauseous from an unexpected drop. There was, occasionally, an unavoidable loop thrown my way.

Only a crazy person would have tried to get off the ride half way through it.

But believe you me, I considered it regularly.

I don’t want you to think I’m whimpering because, frankly, my daughter gave me a pep talk the other day saying, and I quote, “Mom, you did sign up for this you know!”

So I voluntarily set this ride in motion.

I wouldn’t mind spending a bit more time in “It’s a Small World” and a little less time riding the “Matterhorn” though.

Pavlova

Good morning to you! Take a moment and breathe deeply. I hope you’re in your comfy chair.

Enjoy the sounds of excited kids, perhaps the hissing of the tea kettle or distant bells on the street corner.

Smell the pine or the dinner cooking or the candles on the table.

This is a moment for peace and reflection.

It may become my one lasting tradition.

Although my family has grown through many stages and tried several holiday traditions, I have to admit none of them really stuck. We used to make a family photo card every November, but no one will sit for it now. Young children made paper countdown chains, teens did puzzles from an advent calendar, but now we are never all home at the same time for those 24 doors to be faithfully explored.

Perhaps it’s a good thing not to be too tied down to any one ‘necessary’ bit.

Flexibility is key. One year we chopped down a palm tree that had the audacity to grow where it was not wanted. That’s the tree we brought in and strung with lights.

When we moved, I brought along a Christmas tradition. Or so I thought.

For many years we’ve made cookies or truffles or cinnamon rolls or biscotti, wrapped them up and delivered them to our neighbors. Our old ‘hood was steady as a rock and our kids knew everybody.

As the kids grew, the tradition somehow morphed into me doing everything and then begging someone to help deliver the goods. They have better things to do than decorate cookies I guess.

All of our new neighbors are strangers and seem to be constantly moving themselves. I can’t decide if a plate of slightly crooked gingerbread men delivered by slightly surly teenagers will solidify a month-old relationship.

It may just make them reconsider their new location.

So maybe it’s time to re-think this tradition as well.

I can fuss and plan and stress and make huge kitchen messes all by myself.

Or, they should all be expecting wine-in-a-bag.

I will be choosing by the label design, how else?

One Christmas we hosted a wonderfully fun family from Australia. Among the many memories we made, a recipe for pavlova is one that stuck. Probably because I wrote it down.

Her measurements were metric and my kitchen was not.

The ingredients had to be interpreted. ‘Caster’ sugar is finely granulated, but we used what I had and all was well.

This lovely lady reached for my pint of buttermilk, thinking it was milk. I only just saved her cup of tea.

She was gracious enough to demonstrate her pavlova magic for me and with the leftover egg yolks, prepared a chocolate cake from scratch a couple of days later. No one bakes from a box except us Yanks. She used cocoa powder and the flavor was distinctly different. Her kids were in heaven, and so was I.

I had the cooking channel right here in my kitchen! Woot!

Don’t let the recipe worry you. I made it successfully for a couple of Christmases thereafter and it’s a nice change of pace, especially if you top it with fresh fruit or perhaps crushed candy canes.

Lovely Pavlova

  • Separate 4 room temp eggs (they should sit out for at least 20 minutes first); save the yolks for another recipe.
  • Beat the whites and a pinch of salt until they won’t slip in the bowl when it’s tipped sideways. (Use a glass or metal bowl. Make sure your bowl and mixer were dry.)
  • Gradually beat in 2 cups of white granulated sugar until it’s stiff and glossy. This will take forever. (Because the sugar must melt a bit at a time. If a pinch feels grainy between your fingers, you’re adding too fast. If you over beat it, it starts to separate or curdle; start over.)
  • Last, beat in 1 tsp each of: cornstarch, baking powder, vanilla, and white vinegar.
  • Lay a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet. Parchment paper works. No rim on your pan.
  • Gently spread your egg glop onto the center of this foil, spreading into a 10” roundish cake shape. (You could use a plate to mark a guide first if you like. But messy is also pretty. And a gentle hollow in the center will hold fruit nicely.)
  • Pop it into a pre-heated 300 degree oven, and then immediately reduce the temp to 250 degrees.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave it in there to cool and dry out. No drafts allowed. (A challenge on rainy days. Better during santa anas.)
  • When ready to serve, beat 2 cups heavy whipping cream with a pinch of powdered sugar and a drop of vanilla until stiff. Spread it onto a completely cooled pavlova and top with fruit, etc.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.
  • If, by chance, your pavlova is cracked or tanned or weeps or acquires other beauty marks, eat it all the same! You could switch up this recipe into a lot of flavor variations. Have fun!

I’m in Love With the Trash Man

This year at gift giving time, I want to sing for an unsung hero. A guy who is reliable, strong, smart, a good listener and drives a big truck. Like the sheriff, he cleans up this town and makes it safe to walk the sidewalks and enjoy the fresh air.

He’s your neighborhood trash man. And I’m in love.

I’m not a respecter of persons. I love them all. If they made a Trash Man Calendar I would buy it and hang it in the garage. Probably turned to Mr. August.

The trash man will take anything you put in the can. ANYthing. I have, little bits at a time, gotten rid of old water heaters, furniture, kitchen remodel chunks, even concrete.

The greens guy unknowingly but very cheerfully removed an entire pool deck. I had to saw the pieces into 4’ lengths, but there it is. Super service.

Our recycle bin has held the remnants of every party we ever threw. Soda bottles and pizza boxes and colorful crepe paper streamers.

They all show up faithfully every Thursday.

They are the only thing standing between us and the dark ages.

I can go without a lot of modern conveniences, but plumbing and trash removal aren’t on that list.

I finally drove over to the disposal facility today. I don’t know why it took me months before getting around to it. I had a collection of half used paint cans that were considered hazardous waste.

You can’t just dump them in with your regular trash, you have to make an appointment to drop them off.

I felt just guilty enough to not sneak it in there anyways but just put out enough to procrastinate getting it over there.

I’m so spoiled.

It’s free of course, but you take a few minutes of your time to do it.

I sat in the line of cars waiting to drop off “hazardous waste” and watched the trash men empty each load. It was great fun.

They wore gloves and coveralls and tossed giant TVs, computer keyboards, empty propane cylinders, and…hey! that’s the exact same bread machine I have! The one that makes your loaves square instead of round. Someone tossed it? What a waste.

I mean…I guess waste is the idea here. Waste disposal. Got it. Don’t have to like it though.

Watching them work was like watching the Three Stooges pack for a move.

They were doing something I always thought would be fun: take that machine that just broke on me in the middle of something super important and THROW IT ACROSS THE PAVEMENT WATCHING IT BURST INTO TINY SHATTERED BITS OF SORRY.

And these guys are getting paid to do it. Awesome.

My little box of paint cans took them less than a minute to toss. I didn’t even get out of the car. What gentlemen. They were efficient, friendly and helpful. I felt like I needed to go home and find some more things for them to toss.

Driving back out through the facility, I discovered all of the amazing behind the scenes shenanigans. Trash trucks were emptying into large warehouses where trash was processed into further heaps.

Conveyor belts were moving recyclables three stories high and stacked all around were compacted bundles maybe five feet cubed: some were solid crushed milk jugs. This looked like art. White with bits of random color.

Other cubes were cardboard, packed so tightly they were reduced to card stock.

Soda cans were impossibly interlinked, a cube of shiny aluminum brilliance.

The smell was a wonderful pungent tart and sour thing you could almost taste.

But it only lasted a moment or two.

The helpful trash men were insisting that I move right along and for all I know, saving my life in the process.

I came away with two very relevant thoughts.

I am re-confirmed in my opinion that, in this large living America, less is very much more. So much of our trappings are disposable. Simply outdated, unused, or unloved.

Less things. Try not to have so much in the first place.

The recycle idea is wonderful. Re-gift. Re-purpose. Don’t toss it, see if someone else can use your bread machine. Shop at the thrift stores. Donate freely. Circulate your stuff.

Sharing is caring.

But you can buy me one of those calendars.

Santa Clause, Satan, and The Swing Set Sucker Punch

I am about to open a fat can of worms. There’s no way around it. We don’t need this to get messy. But we’re going to get real for a few minutes.

Are you one of those moms who drags her kids down to the mall for a Santa photo? Santas worry me like circus clowns worry me. At least a mime has the sense to keep his mouth shut, and they are plenty creepy.

Every kid worth his salt will take one look at Santa and see a phony. What normal adult dresses up like that and expects to be taken seriously? What crazy mom tells her kid to go sit on a total stranger’s lap and tell him secrets? Who does that?

I only attempted two Santa photos back when I was a young lemming mommy, and my rational kids were screaming bloody murder at the whole nonsense.

But I never ‘did’ Santa. I never did the Easter Bunny. I never did leprechauns. The Tooth Fairy was always a day late and a dollar short.

Don’t lie to your kids. They will tell themselves lies later all on their own (“Mom said to eat the cookies…I’m pretty sure I heard her say that.”).

So while my mommy friends were on the roof at midnight, ringing sleigh bells and leaving hoof prints, my kids knew it was all just a fun game that parents played and they got ‘Santa’ presents all the same. They swore not to tell their friends, and I got a good night’s sleep.

Lest your holiday cheer is wilting like a June snowman, you need to understand…like the infamous Grinch, I too have a tragic back story.

Remember my tiny childhood home? Next door lived a dyed-in-the-wool catholic family with three little girls. The oldest daughter was my age, 9, and got threatened regularly with Satan when she was naughty.

If Lorraine’s mama said Satan was in her bottom dresser drawer ready to snatch her, then he was.

I was being raised believing in only one God, which meant there couldn’t be one anywhere else. Satan was a figment of a grumpy and misguided imagination.

Lorraine and I were never what you would call ‘friends’. We were quite opinionated ‘frenemies’.

So I pulled that dresser to pieces looking for the guy with the pitchfork. We never did find him.

She insisted: just because we can’t find the guy doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

And she waited for her moment of revenge.

One Christmas morning, we woke up to sunshine and a few frugal gifts which we enjoyed. Passing a window, I noticed something; a shiny new swing set was sitting in the backyard and with whoops of delight, we raced out to play.

Lorraine and her sisters were watching through the fence.

“Look!” I cried, “Santa brought us a swing set!”

“No he didn’t,” she said smugly, “your dad built it.”

“There’s no way he could have!” I retorted. My spy system was pretty good, and there had been zero hints that this possibility was in the works.

“I sat up last night and watched him do it,” insisted Lorraine, “There is no Santa Clause.”

I stopped swinging.

My frown of anger, doubt and possible betrayal began to grow as I marched back into the house.

“Mom!”

My mother’s guilty face, however, told me immediately that “Santa” used the same wrapping paper that she did (a detail I had been overlooking until today) and furthermore, while quite easy to locate (one on every corner in December…well, technically in November too in progressive malls) he was also a figment of a cheerful and misguided imagination.

Can you blame me if I never invited her over for a swing on the set?

Just because there is no Santa doesn’t mean his gifts disappear.

How Many Queens in a Full House?

A homemaker is a gambler.

She gambles every time she makes something new for the family dinner.

She gambles on whether Hubby will throw a fit over her new short hair cut.

She gambles on whether the car will run out of gas before she runs out of errands.

So it’s only natural that when she has incoming house guests, she invites Lady Luck to join her in the linen closet for a game of bluff.

Four of a Kind would be lovely but Two Pair are all I can realistically ask for.

The gamble is finding the right combination of sizes, colors, and pieces that will go onto the correct configuration of beds.

Simultaneously.

Our large family has no shortage of beds. The girls have twin beds with rolling trundles that pop out when needed and the boys have twin beds that can combine into a king size, and we have a queen size bed that just sort of moves around between rooms.

I really don’t know how that happened.

But she lives here too.

Depending on who our guests are, I may need to take my game up a notch, as the kids donate their rooms for the occasion.

The girls have bedding that is coordinated but comes with an array of unique pillows, stuffed animals, college blankets, clip-on headboard lamps, a couple of candy bar wrappers in the duvet and possibly some pocket change under the mattress.

One daughter always makes her bed. One daughter never makes her bed.

The boys share a room that is completely stripped of toys, trophies, or trinkets. Instead, their room with two beds and two nightstands has a central sacrificial burial mound where a week’s worth of laundry (clean and dirty) mingle with sports equipment, gym bags, school papers, shoes, cell phone chargers, backpacks, and empty gatorade bottles.

When I tell them to clean up they use a skip loader and put it all into the closet.

None of them will use a top sheet, so the fitted sheets get worn to rags and the tops are brand spanking new. The quilts are somewhere in the middle.

My linen closet takes a good beating but we manage to make it work.

I reach in and pull out a king top and a queen bottom. Okay, double or nothing. I grab another blue sheet and two twins and a pillow sham fall out.

I decided to toss all of my dice at once, gut the shelves, and look for the Royal Flush.

I lined up the kings and kept a set in yellow. I hunted down all of the queens. Only the brown set stayed. Because only the brown set had all the pieces. I discovered I had twin bedding for a dozen beds, but only if those beds needed a random top sheet or pillow case. So I stacked matched four piece sets for six twins, tossing out the kickers.

I had to find a blanket and quilt to each set. By now I was surrounded with linens.

Let’s see…two twins equals a king….

“I’ll see your sheet and raise you a bed skirt.”

It was then that I decided to raise the stakes even higher. When your son hits 6’2” and his feet are hanging off the end of his bed, you have to get what they call a twin “long”.

That or buy him nice ski socks.

I had a hot tip on some sheet sets at a discount warehouse, so I went to investigate. I found a lovely 500 thread count Egyptian cotton set marked down by 70%. It’s pink and yellow, but it’s new and it all matches. Maybe it’s a long shot, but no one needs to know if he’s sleeping on flowery sheets, right?

No? Fine. Scratch that.

I shuffled the deck and found one with tiny green seashells. Score!

Turns out, twin “long”s aren’t the popular size, but for us they’re the ace in the hole.

Oh. You’re coming over for the weekend? Suite!

We put jokers on the couch.

Black Eye Friday

If you have been up since midnight today, you have my deepest sympathy.

There’s not one thing I want bad enough to trade sleep for. Neither is there a bargain so great that I’m willing to risk a black eye over it. It’s all yours.

But on my list for later is a lingerie shop. Somewhere in the back, between the perfume and the silk stockings, they must sell what I’m looking for: a hairnet.

Because nothing lights up my Hubby’s eyes like a fat lady in a hairnet handing out free samples.

I suppose you’re a fan of Costco too?

It’s the only place he goes on Black Friday. He could get any of this stuff online. And there’s always a line outside the door, not just today. They always have deals. In bulk.

Last year he filled a cart and two flats with stuff. Simply because he could. He was like a kid in a candy store. All the impulse shopping he could do and no regrets.

“This place is great!” he cries constantly, “You can return anything. Any time!”

And we did. Over the next few weeks, it almost all went back. But boy did he have fun.

Here’s my little rant, and feel free to disagree. Costco is ridiculous.

You will never walk out with just what was on your list. And what was on your list, you must buy in vast amounts. So your budget…yeah, creamed.

But if Costco sells it, Hubby will buy it. My only hope for ever getting new furniture or a blender or diamond jewelry is if they sell it. Vacations, clothing, tortillas and backpacks, you name it. Hubby is positive that Costco has done all his research on a product for him. Costco will add their own warranties to products and let you return that crusty used toaster for a full refund.

Even if you threw away all the packaging and you’re dragging it by its cord.

Even if the receipt is stuck to the bottom of your trashcan with maple syrup.

Even if the melted pop tart is still fused into a slot.

Because that’s the kind of customer service we’re talking about, by George, and that’s five stars by him.

I’m horrified. Straight up. That he would even try a stunt like that.

And Costco is enabling this behavior.

He loves to go there on his lunch break during the week. He feels like he gets a cheap meal that comes with a floor show. You can sit down and eat a hot dog with a Coke and watch the most random people buying the most random items.

But first, he works the building and visits the hairnet ladies.

There is stiff competition for the free samples around the store. He spars with an elderly man over a quarter of a cheeseburger. He pushes in front of a lady’s motorized shopping cart to get his taste of rolled taco bites.

When the family of four starts taking more than one sample each, he has to reach right between them and snatch his fair share of chocolate covered pretzels.

But when the bacon lady is ready to pull out her next batch of hickory smoked kibble, you’d better believe he maneuvers to be first in line. And even that isn’t a guarantee he’ll get one. Scalded fingers and burnt tongues are a small price to pay for your share of tasty goodness.

Sadly, our sons are also learning to love a lady in a hairnet.

I stand aloof, my back to the sock displays, and watch with unabated horror. I act like I don’t know my own family and only make eye contact to silently shame them into stopping.

“Don’t take the sample!” my eyes plead, “we aren’t going to buy that. It’s not right. Why are you fighting for something you don’t need?”

But the siren song of the hairnet ladies overrides my calls for composure and they flit helplessly from cart to cart, only bypassing the ones handing out Ensure and chia seeds.

It’s nice to know that Hubby would leap tall buildings in a single bound if only I wore a hairnet and was handing out bacon bits.

So I guess my shopping list is much smaller than yours. Wake me up when it’s noon.

Thankful for the Midgets

Here we are in the throes of Thanksgiving. I love this month. I love having everybody over and sampling their cooking and playing “Take 2” with scrabble tiles. I even love the dirty dishes, as you know. I love the weather and that we can go for a saunter in the sunshine and sit in the jacuzzi at night under the stars with just a little bit more pie.

That one is a new tradition. We put as many people as we can in the spa until there’s no more water in it.

“Why not?” is what you should be asking.

One year I was inspired to go a little bit outside the usual box for Thanksgiving. Normally when I suggest such a thing, my family responds with a great deal of eye rolling and long exasperated sighs.

“There goes Mom again,” they say sadly, “can’t just eat turkey and get on with it. Has to make a production out of stuff.”

This is why I’ve been serving spaghetti for twenty years instead of chicken cordon bleu and veal with wine reduction sauce and capers. Because they’re a lot of barbarians, that’s why. Not a grain of culture among them.

I snuck it in anyway by using a bribe they couldn’t resist: fire.

Even a caveman will hold still and stare at fire.

Our large group spread out in a circle in the living room and everyone held a candle with a drip catcher on it. I lit mine and said something I was thankful for. It could be anything large or small, personal or general. No pressure. Just mention something and we’ll give you an ‘amen’.

It so happened we had been in a major car crash that year and although our car had been totaled from three directions, all five of us basically walked away untouched. So I started us off with something obvious.

The flame was passed around the room, each person lighting his candle from the previous one, mentioning his gratitude and passing the torch, so to speak.

I gave myself a mental pat on the back. Just once I had finally managed to implement one of those cool ideas from Martha Stewart, Pinterest, or the glossy magazine articles that tell you how to make family memories.

**sigh** said the cockles of my heart. They were toasty.

The flame had almost completed the circle when it was tiny Tim’s turn. I could see he’d been thinking deeply about his moment of fame and when the spotlight finally landed at his feet, he took a deep breath and enthusiastically blurted out,

“I’m thankful for the midgets!”

Hey, there’s no judging here.

Even the midgets got a hearty ‘amen’ and smiling contentedly, he lit the next guy’s candle.

This was not my personal tiny Tim, this was someone else’s, but he’s going down in our own family history as the kid who reminded us to think outside the box.

Especially if there might be midgets involved.

I’d like to leave you with a last thought as you work your way through your next piece of pie.

One of my favorite books is “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom.

It’s a tale of her family during Nazi occupation and her experiences in the prisons as a 52 year old woman.

Her elder, frail sister is leading a prayer circle deep in the rotting barracks and tells Corrie to be thankful for everything, even the fleas that are tormenting them at the moment.

Corrie scoffs at the idea. How can she be thankful for what seems like a horrible thing?

She finds out later that the reason their nightly prayer circles go unhindered and unpunished is specifically because their brutal captors can’t stand the fleas.

The fleas were allowing their thanksgiving to occur.

Here’s to an abundant and overflowing year.

May you pause once in a while to be thankful for it all.

May you have bounty enough to share with the next guy, whether its midgets or fleas or simply the flame of inspiration.

Introvert, Party of One

Generally, people are “innies” or “outies”. Your happy place would be either in your favorite chair with a cup of tea or out wandering Comic Con, dressed as Harry Potter.

Like your belly button, introverts and extroverts are equally common and equally fun to poke.

Let’s ponder the facts for a moment. Introverts are not shy, socially awkward or Tibetan monks any more than extroverts are party animals, public speakers or Jim Carrey.

Introverts get their energy from within. They re-charge their batteries with alone time. They thrive in peace and quiet and delight in solitude. If they get their regular down time, they will be charged for anything, including being leaders of the free world.

Many presidents were introverts.

Extroverts get energized by other people. Their batteries recharge by rubbing elbows with crowds and having lots of action around them. If they get their regular “peeps” time, they are refueled to go out there and work in a cubicle 9 to 5 or stay home with the children all day.

Many nuns are extroverts.

Opposites attract as they say, so, naturally, I’m the introverted wife of an extroverted hubby. He still wonders how I can spend all day with a good book, and I can never figure out what spending hours at Costco does for him. What drains me, fuels him. What I consider the best day ever, he would think a complete waste of time.

Utterly boring.

However.

We have learned to use our individuality to the team advantage: he does the grocery shopping, I do the dishes. He circulates when we throw big house parties, and…I do the dishes. He chats with ten people at once and I will chat with the person next to me.

But only for a few minutes. Then I go find some dishes to wash.

It’s just enough of a re-boot to jump back into the party.

He knows everybody. Probably in the whole world.

I do too. It’s just easier to know them one at a time, spread out over the week, as opposed to a stadium full simultaneously.

I have to say, though, when all is said and done, introverts have more fun. An introvert will have more parties going on in her head on any given day than an extrovert will attend in his lifetime.

And they will be polite parties involving the maintaining of personal space.

You will know who is which at the extrovert’s party because one will be shrieking and hugging and smiling and talking mile a minute with the entire group while the other will be ducking, wincing, and thinking to herself, “If she gets any louder, dogs will hear her in the next county.”

The extrovert will wonder what’s wrong with her introvert friend and give her extra hugs in case it’s something so bad, her girlfriend can’t even talk about it.

That’s what friends are for.

Extroverts have external voices. Everything is verbalized at the moment it’s thought. You can’t put too much weight into it. A problem shared is a problem halved. Silence is threatening. If you are quiet around them, they will pursue you relentlessly trying to decide if you’re hiding something.

Introverts have internal voices. Silence is golden. I work things out in my head and then say just what I need to say, if something indeed, needs saying. My problem shared would be a problem doubled.

I’m not hiding anything except an excess of verbiage.

“I love you,” says the extrovert, “talk to me!”

“I love you too,” says the introvert, “please shut up!”

If only one of these statements poked you, you just found out who you are. Neither are threats and both are revelations about the speaker’s needs.

Maybe innies collect a little dust, and maybe outies are more easily accessorized.

But now that we know who is whom, we can celebrate it with a nice cup of tea.

Um, in a flash mob.

If you need to.

I’ll understand.

Talking Turkey

What will be on your Thanksgiving table? I am more grateful for the people around it than for what lands on it. Rich is the man with a simple meal surrounded by great love. It took me years to understand this.

Which makes every day Thanksgiving.

Traditions are lovely, if they add to the love, so if some secret modifications occur, hey, who needs to know?

I am about to blab all of my turkey day short-cuts. I will understand if you decide not to eat the apple pie after all, but I have learned the hard way that life is too short for a great many things. And making your own pie crust is one of them.

I somehow always end up making the turkey. Early in my marriage I was asked to do it and there are few things more intimidating. You’re wrestling with a 25 pound naked headless bird that is supposed to feed your in-laws in just a few short hours while six other dishes need to be started.

The anxiety levels alone radiating off me should have cooked the thing.

All you know is that if you screw up, not only will we all have food poisoning but I will go down in family history…probably legend…as the one who ruined Thanksgiving.

Is there a Girl Scout Badge for suffering? No. There isn’t. Listen up.

I cook my thawed turkey (yes, I pulled all the bits out of the middle first) breast down in a plastic oven bag in a tray. I throw garlic and rosemary and thyme from the garden in it and on it. I cook it on 350* somewhere between 2 and 3 hours, depending on it’s weight. The bag directions will tell you.

But I will tell you to do this the day before Thanksgiving.

Yep. It’s wonderful. I take my time, no party pressure to hurry. When the bird’s done just right, I leisurely carve it. I take my largest metal pan, lined with foil, and arrange slices and wing joints in it and then seal it all up. I pop it into the fridge.

I pour the juices into a large tupperware and refrigerate.

The next day, I will take both items out. I put the fat chunks that have floated to the top of the tupperware and spoon them inside my turkey pan. Use some dripping juice if you think you want a little more moisture, just don’t end up making soup in there.

Pop the turkey pan, all sealed back up with foil, into the oven at 300* for about an hour and a half from when you want to eat. The fat will melt as the turkey warms and your house will smell amazing.

Polite guests will wonder why you’re sitting around chatting and drinking Pinot Grigio instead of fighting the turkey in the kitchen.

Because you worked smarter, not harder, that’s why.

If you wanted to pull out your Martha Stewart, that was yesterday. When you took the turkey carcass left over and put it into a stock pot and made broth for the freezer. And when you simmered the giblets in a pan and then saved the chopped up bits and the broth to make gravy. Which I didn’t make. Because enough years of trying went by before I decided to cheat on that one, too.

I set up two big crockpots.

One holds a twin-pack of ready made gravy from Costco, up to 1 and 1/2 cups of the turkey juices from that tupperware we used, and the giblet bits. People who wanted giblets are satisfied and people who don’t, won’t know they’re in there.

The other crockpot holds boxed stuffing mix made with the giblet broth. To this you could have added literally anything to make it more realistic. Chopped apple, celery, dried cranberries, whatever your great Aunt Mable insisted on.

She will never know the difference.

To cheat or not to cheat…that is the question.

To tell or not to tell…that’s a no brainer.