Wednesday, November 29, 2006

End of November

It's about a week after Thanksgiving. We've had three inches of rain in the last three days, and then suddenly, the temperature dropped to 20 degrees. We're expecting zero in the morning.
Regis and I met with a financial advisor after school today. If ever there was a pair in need of financial advice, it is us. She was very nice, didn't laugh at us, and seems to have our best interests at heart. Of course, how does a guy know? She's probably on her way to Aruba tonight with our vast fortune. Actually, she works with lots of school teachers so she's probably used to fifty-four year olds with no money, lots of debt, and hopes for retirement sometime in the future.
After a couple hours with Gretchen, we cruised for a place to assuage our pain with a stiff drink. We went to Hermies and it looked too busy. We went back to Whiskey River and there weren't too many cars so we went in to find our good friends Jan and Anders, drinking Manhattans, as always. Anders mom just died at 96 in Sweden, we hadn't seen them in a while, and we were melancholy about our portfolio so we had a few Manhattans together and finally ordered pork commercials. That goes together...cuisine-wise, right? It's always wonderful to run into Jan and Anders. Anders is going back to Sweden for the funeral in a few weeks (they do it differently there) so we have a date with Jan for a few more Manhattans and maybe another pork commercial. Comfort food. It's cold and dark in Minnesota. Manhattans are medicinal.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The day after Thanksgiving

We made it through the big day. The total time on preparation and eating and clean-up was almost twenty-four hours from start to finish. (Regis used a stop watch to calculate that interesting tidbit!)
The weather was so beautiful we even had a few lawn chairs out in front and the porch was open. It's a good thing because our tiny house would have been crowded. The food was delicious and the company was great. Amber's parents, Reg's future in-laws, Mike and Peggy, came with their son (also Mike) from Grand Rapids. Tiffany came with my brother David and his wife Joan from South St. Paul. Peter came from Mankato and acted like he hadn't seen real food in weeks! Bob and Em were here with Bby Ella who was a great sport about all the strangers and the commotion. She even took a little nap in the midst of it all. My friend Kathy, who had helped me clean and cook and organize, was here for dinner, too. She took a plate home to Harvey, sick in bed. Regis said a very touching Thanksgiving prayer, saying how nice it was for all of us to be together and to welcome the new members of our family. I cried...second time that day. First time, as always, when Santa comes out at the end of the Macy's parade.
We had lots of help with the dishes, but Kathy and Peter hung in there for hours and finished the pans. I kept telling them to let them soak but Kathy likes to finish things. What a concept. All the guests were gone by 6 and the few of us who were left hit the couches.
I went back to bed when Regis left this morning and slept for two hours. Now that it's almost noon, I better get up and finish the clean-up. More pictures are posted here if you'd like to take a look:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Being Thankful

There will always be people who have more than we do — and less than we have. That is just the way of the world. This year we have much for which to be thankful. We have a new generation started with the birth of Ella last New Year's day. In 2007 we will have a new family member by marriage when Reggie and Amber tie the knot in August. All the members of our family are healthy, and there are no hardships to navigate as we sail towards the New Year. We have endured some minor losses. Conner has left the company of the lovely Tiffany. Her heart will mend. I, of course, see this as a positive development and with a little luck will be able to airbrush him from most of the pictures.

This year brings a monster meal hosted at our home by the sweet and kind hearted Teresa. My wife, bless her heart, is always eager and willing to strap on a feed for all who are willing to come. Be it Glen, Derek, or any other soul without a place to go Teresa welcomes all to our home on the fourth Thursday in November each year. I am thankful to have her in my life and in this regard have more than most men. She did put her foot down when it came to her ex husband, who it seemed was fishing for an invitation, but a girl does have to have some standards. This year we will be hosting Amber's parents for the first time. We have no idea how that will go but since the invitation was extended after imbibing copious amounts of alcohol we will be excused if all does not go well.

There you have it. The die is cast, the ball is in play, and there ain't no stoppin us now. Any clichés forgotten? I will try to maintain my composure as I watch Teresa wind herself up like an eight day clock as we approach Thursday. I will try to remind her everything will be ok, that it is ok to eat from disposable plates, and that indeed 400 pounds of food will feed 60 people or 12 Fritsches which is the rough equivalent. Most of all I will remind her that at the end of the day we will let the belts out a notch or two and remember all that we can be thankful for. Let us remember that we laugh together but cry alone.

The picture, incidentally, is the theme collage that I put together for this year's festivities. These are all pictures there of family members and a few friends surrounding the classic Norman Rockwell painting. Some have passed and many will not be in Saint Peter come Thursday. But is who we are and from whence we came.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Addendum to Thanksgiving Menu

Holy crap. I forgot to mention the plain bread stuffing...and the onion tartlets, although I think I did mention those in the text of my post. I lost the chocolate pumpkin truffle recipe, too, so those were not a sure thing for a while. I found the recipe online. Regis laughed because on the recipe, I had a WELLNESS MATTERS sticky note with the liquor list. Not like it was a long list. Kahlua for the truffles, orange liquer for the cranberry relish, and white wine for something else. Do you brine a turkey in white wine?
Tiffany and I went to the Mankato Symphony meets City Mouse this afternoon. City Mouse played three songs. The rest was fine, too, but it got a little long. It started at 3 and we made a run for it at 5:30. We were hungry and tired of sitting.
Regis read this from the paper today: Middle-aged fat mice realize many health benefits from drinking red wine. What the hell. I think I'm offended. Like the time I got the senior discount at the theater from some babe who was about 15. I said I would have been offended if I hadn't just saved 2 bucks.

Weekend before Thanksgiving

Well, we have a 16-pound naked version of this guy in the refrigerator. Tiffany was here for the weekend so we made the foray to the HyVee in Mankato for the pickup load of groceries it will take to feed 15 people. She had the list (organized by aisle) and I was in charge of the cart. We made an efficient team. We couldn't find chestnuts...they kept directing us to water chestnuts instead...but otherwise it was a successful trip.

We've been watching Food TV all week. I have Alton Brown's turkey recipe, Emerill's sausage and corn bread stuffing recipe, Rachel Ray's squash recipe, and Sandra Lee's onion tartlet recipe. They make it all look so easy. I asked guests to bring pies which was hard for me being the food control freak that I am. That's my least favorite part of the meal anyway so I guess I don't have to worry. I bought lefse this year because there's no time to make it. I didn't buy herring or pickled beets because I'm the only one who eats them, but I did concede to the damn green bean casserole.

So, here's the menu:
Turkey w/ cornbread and sausage dressing and spicy cranberry sauce
Swedish meatballs
Mashed Yukon gold potatoes and gravy
Green bean casserole
Potato rolls
Potato lefse
Butternut squash
Fresh cranberry relish w/ oranges and apples
Chocolate and pumpkin truffles

Joan's bringing a salad, too, so we won't only be eating protein and carbs. Better get into the kitchen. Lots to do before Thursday!

Oh boy! Talk about trouble a brewin. First off there is no mention of my tartlets on the menu. Oh the humanities. I can understand though as my contribution will be a side show. The thing that I am actually worried about is the lack of conventional dressing. That is one of the only items that I can eat and it seems to be missing from the menu. So it looks as though I will be at the HyVee on Wednesday buying prepackaged bread stuffing. Then I will need to sneak it into the house and somehow warm it up without Teresa catching wind of it. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Growing Old Together

Leo Kottke as he looked when I first saw him in 1973, and as he looks, more or less, in 2006.

We saw Leo Kottke last night at a really small venue. We were almost sitting on top of him. He is one hell of a picker. I had stopped for coffee at Waldo's, a local shop, when the wait-tron asked how I was going to spend my day off. I told her that I was going to see Leo Kottke that night. She had no idea who he was and asked me if he was "new". So, feeling like an infinitely wise hipster dufus I open my mouth and placed my foot squarely therin and said, "How old are you?" "21", she replied. "Well I was about your age the first time I saw Mr. Kottke." Her eyes got big as saucers and she said, "Wow, he must be really old." My dear wife had to feed me severl beers last night to get me back on track. But in the end the music was phenomenal, Leo is still a damned funny Deep Space Cowboy, and I was one of many sagging bodies with thinning hair who spent an evening reconnecting with his or her youth.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Gales of November

Boy, is the weather ugly here. Not cold, not snowy, not anything but gray from horizon to horizon. I was going to avoid writing negative things but it's impossible. Everyone is cranky. Every day is just a procession of one irritating thing after another. Hahahahaa. Well, not really that bad but almost. They say on the news (which I don't watch but someone reported to me...) that people are cranky from seasonal affective disorder. Maybe.
I finally got most of the Halloween stuff put away. I have the vacuum cleaner parked in the middle of the living room. (It really isn't all that hard to walk around.)I have gathered the recipes for Thanksgiving dinner. Today I wondered if it might be warm enough Thanksgiving Day that we can open the porch. Of course, that would entail sweeping the leaves out of there. I think our guests should be grateful that there aren't squirrels loping over their laps and plates.

I think I have to quit. I can't think of one thing to write that isn't cynical or sarcastic. Not appealing, eh?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Here we are again...

You might have noticed that the miles are not exactly piling up. Unless it's on that keg bike in the last picture. Hahahaha. What a hoot.
We did a lot of walking on Tusday to get out the vote. Regis, bless his heart, has been such a dedicated campaigner for Kathy Sheran. Christina, her campaign manager, called Regis her "private stock". I hope that means she didn't let on around the office that he would walk and knock in any weather! Tuesday was a long day. Regis walked more than 5 miles, I sat in the car for the middle of the day. We worked from 9 in the morning until almost 7 that evening. It was great to get up Wednesday morning and hear that so many Minnesota Democrats had won their races. Wish we could have stayed at the victory party to hear the speeches at midnight but we couldn't. Maybe next election. It was great fun, the little bit that I did. Regis put in long hours every week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New exercise method...

Well, with the election and my meditation class and the cold weather and all of our other excuses, lame-ass as they are, we have taken up a totally new form of exercise. We participate between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00, known in some places as happy hour. We think we'll be able to stick with this one!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Halloween!

Betty and Ella having a good time with the sceptor, one of my birthday presents. I was wearing the tiara that goes with it. My friends know that I like sparkly things!

Here are my friends Joanne, Kathy, and Harvey in Tom's bar. Tom, not in the photo, was dressed as a pirate. He and Betty made a raft full of tacos, and served a great beer. They have a great house for a party and they're wonderful hosts. A good time was had by all, as the Lutherans say.


I got to celebrate my birthday with Ella...and it was her first Halloween! She was such a good baby. She played dice with Tom at the bar (don't call social services!), she let Fletcher, the dachsund, lick her face, and she let Betty hold her. Regis said Betty looked as comfortable with a baby as I would with a pistol. Oh, she loved the trick or treaters. If we didn't take her upstairs to see them, she chirped like a little bird. She was so cute in her little pumpkin jammie thing. Betty and Tom had a great party with good food and lots of laughs. I love birthdays!