Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remembering Thanksgiving BPT (Before Pop-up Timers)!!!

As I fight my way through the grocery store, equipped with yet another cart that won’t make left turns, I find myself reminiscing about Thanksgivings past.

Turkeys and I have a love/hate relationship. LOVE cooking them, HATE thawing them. One year, after two days in the refrigerator, the turkey was still frozen solid. I immediately called the Turkey Hotline. Fortunately, Mom was home and answered the phone. “You need to put it in cold water” she said. “If you don’t have a big enough bucket, it can go in your bathtub.” So, the turkey and I went upstairs to the master bath. When I thought it was filled enough, I dumped the turkey in. Now, I could barely get this thing upstairs, it was so heavy. But, darned if it didn’t float. I could already see the e-coli forming on the part of the turkey exposed to the air. I looked around for something heavy, but everything I tried eventually slipped off and the turkey would pop up again.

After trying everything I could think of, I settled on a cookie sheet with a stack of pots and pans balanced on top of that. Success! I went back downstairs to start on the pies. A few hours later, the kids and I heard a crash from upstairs. Darn it, I thought. We ran up, and couldn’t help but notice wet footprints going down the hallway. I followed the footprints and the kids went to check on the turkey. Well, apparently, Kitty decided to leap from the edge of the tub onto Turkey Island, and was immediately immersed in very cold water. I found her under the bed, completely soaked. Needless to say, I knew she would never try that again. But, just in case, every year since, I close the door.

The very next year, our family was sitting around the dining room table, enjoying the bounty of food. At the end of the meal, I brought out the pumpkin pie. Everyone groaned, so we decided to watch a movie, and then have dessert. About twenty minutes into the movie, there was a lull in the action, and I noticed a sound I didn’t recognize. I asked if the kids heard it and they said yes. We listened for quite awhile, and then something clicked in my brain. I knew that sound! The kids followed as I rushed to the dining room. There, in the middle of the table, tongue deep into the pumpkin pie was our Lhasa Apso, Teddy. Not too concerned because I had made two pies, I marveled at what this dog had accomplished. The table was still set with plates, silverware, candles, wine glasses and water goblets. He had managed to get to the pie without disturbing anything on the table. I could just picture him moving one paw at a time, stopping to make sure we hadn’t heard him, and then proceeding. I think we all had a little more respect for him after that.

My favorite story goes way back to the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever made. For years, we spent the holiday with my in-laws, but we had moved to another state. I was on my own. My biggest concern was getting it all done by early afternoon. I wasn’t sure how long the turkey would take, and I needed the oven for the pies and various casseroles. I figured I needed to start cooking at 5 am. So, there I was, up before the sun. By the time dinner was ready, I had used every bowl, pan, baking sheet, measuring cup, and spoon we had. I brought the food out and placed it on the table. Wow, I thought, this looks like a meal you would see in a magazine. I finally sat down for the first time that day. I quickly drank half a glass of wine while the food was passed around. I stood up and excused myself from the table. I climbed the stairs to our bedroom, and collapsed on the bed. I slept for four hours. I missed the meal. I missed Thanksgiving.

I still struggle. The turkey never seems to thaw in time, and I am forced to put my hand into the icy cold cavity to retrieve the goody bags inside (I think I had cooked two turkeys before I even knew about the bags). No one has invented a turkey anchor so I am still piling things on top of the bird to hold it down. I still need a bolt cutter to get the stupid wire thingy off the legs. And, I still do my shopping two days before Thanksgiving. Which reminds me…I am next in line to check out. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

There's No Place Like Home!

People say to me “Elaine, most of your stories happened a long time can you remember back in such detail?” Well, sometimes I don’t have to go very far back. Like today, for instance.

I can’t say it started like any other day, because due to a serious brain fart three weeks ago, I scheduled a dentist appointment for a Monday morning. Two hours…that’s how long I was in the dentist chair. The entire lower half of my face was numb. I’d never been so happy to leave a place in my life. I got home, and the first thing I did was let the dogs out. As I passed through the kitchen I noticed a spider floating in the dog’s water bowl. When I was completely confident that it was dead, I took the bowl outside to dump it. Because we have an obnoxious kitten (yes, some kittens can be obnoxious) who tries to escape every time there is a door open, I pulled it shut behind me. Dumped the water bowl, turned to go back in, and the door was locked. I immediately had that this is bad feeling.

I knew the front door was locked, because I had just locked it. We have a hidden spare key, but I had given it to our painter so he could get in while we were out of town. He returned it, but did I put it back in the hiding place? I already knew the answer, but I checked anyway. No key. I sized up my situation. Both doors locked and no phone. I checked all the windows and they were locked tight. The only person who could help me was in a meeting on the other side of town.

I saw my neighbor’s front door open. A neighbor I have been waving to for over five years, but never met. I knocked on her door, trying not to drool out of the side of my mouth. I introduced myself and asked to borrow her phone. It went to voicemail and I tried hard not to sound completely pathetic, but I left a message that I needed him to come home. I went back to our house, found a sunny spot in the backyard to sit, and the dogs and I waited. When an hour and a half had gone by, I started plotting how I could break in. Then, I was reminded of another horrible situation I had gotten myself into....

About six years ago, when I lived by myself in a condo, I decided to go out on the balcony to see what the temperature was like, so I could decide whether to wear a coat or not to work. Just as I closed the sliding door, the safety bar slips down into place, and I am locked out...on my second floor coat...wearing a skirt and heels. I figured it wouldn’t be long before someone would go by walking their dog and I could get help. An entire hour went by and there was no one. A neighbor I knew who worked at home had a ground floor unit, and I thought if I yelled loud enough he would hear me. Nope, that didn’t work either. I looked in the little storage closet, and noticed there were some drop cloths. I could tie them together, attach them to the door handle and shimmy my way to the ground…wearing a skirt…and heels.

By then, I knew they were probably worried about me for not showing up at work. I pictured a city-wide search, and how silly I would look on the news, when they discovered I hadn’t been abducted at all...I was just locked out on my balcony. I got mad. What happened next was one of those bursts of strength that mothers have when their child is trapped under a car. Using nothing but my bare hands, I pulled at the door frame until it started to bend. Then I slammed my body against the door, creating a gap large enough for my hand to fit through and lift the stupid safety bar.

Now, my present situation wasn’t as bad as all that. But, I had been waiting two hours now. The numbness of my face was wearing off, and I desperately wanted a Tylenol. What I needed was my inner MacGyver to kick in. We have a tool chest on our patio and I looked to see what there was. I decided to break a window in the back door, stick my hand through and unlock the door. But, I was worried about the obnoxious kitten because I knew he was probably parked right on the other side of the door. I remembered seeing people preparing their homes for a hurricane by putting tape across their windows in an X pattern. I found a roll of duct tape and covered every square inch of the window. I then went to another window, called out to the kitten, and when I knew he was safely out of the way, I took a heavy tool (couldn’t find the hammer I had pictured myself using) and started slamming it into the tape covered window. I couldn’t believe how hard I was hitting it, and it wasn’t breaking. I knew I only had a few seconds before the kitten would come back to the door, so I swung hard. It started to break.

Now, on TV they always wrap their arm in a jacket or something before they stick it in the jagged opening, but the only thing available was my Coldwater Creek sweater which I had miraculously saved from the rag bin, when I managed to get the nail polish I spilled out of it. There was no way I was going to endanger that sweater again. So, I just stuck my bare arm in. Unlocked the door, put the dogs in their crates, tossed the kitten in my office, and swept up the broken glass. They are coming to replace the window tomorrow. I can’t wait to tell the glass guy that I broke it myself. He’ll either be very impressed, or replace the glass quicker than he’s ever done before, and get the heck out of here. I’m okay with either.