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Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

The giant hamster wheel of life

It’s Friday night. I’m on the couch in pajamas, eating pizza, alone, catching up on my DVR backlog.

If time-traveling 20-something Wendy were to appear right now, she would die. Oh, the horror! Friday night. At home. Alone.

Current Wendy could not be more content.

I used to consider it a failed weekend if I didn’t have something fun to do both nights. “Fun” = going out, unless I were having a party or some kind of social gathering at my abode. Now that would kill me. Or at least leave me exhausted and in need of a weekend. Today a quiet weekend at home with Ruby Dogwonkafonka is one of my favorite things, and if I go too long without one I get twitchy.

What a difference 10 or 20 years makes.

It’s convenient that I’m happy staying in, since at the moment I don’t have a lot of extra dough for going out. 20-something Wendy, I blame you – if you had stayed in a little more, maybe we’d have more cash reserves now – see, this is all your fault!

I’ve been contemplating age and aging and the giant hamster wheel of life for a while now. I feel like somewhere in my early 40s (which is where I still reside) I reached a point of clarity or something. I’m not young anymore, in spite of what people think. This is not a bad thing, even though when I refer to myself as “middle-aged” people recoil and assure me that I’m not. Hi, yes I am. In the US the average lifespan for women is something like 81 years, and I can do math. I’m also not old – I recognize this. The math thing, plus I have a 97-year-old grandma. She is old. She also reads my blog, so hopefully she isn’t offended by that statement. She shouldn’t be. Oldness has nothing to do with awesomeness, and the timing of this rambling contemplation could not be more fortuitous, seeing as tomorrow she is receiving an honorary doctorate from University of St. Francis. She is not your grandmother’s grandmother. (That makes me giggle.)

This awareness of what is and is not old seems to be one of the universal stupidities of young people. I remember saying things like, “I’m sooooooooooooo olllllldddddddd” when I was 25. Or 27. Or 32. And I hear/see on Facebook people in their 20s and 30s say things in this vein all the time. And now, I realize how stupid they sound. They’re not old. They’re aware of the passage of time for maybe the first time ever, but they’re obviously not old. And there’s no getting this message through, because they think they know everything.

Now that I’m in the middle and looking both directions, I don’t at all assume I know everything – that is one thing I have learned. You think you do, and then you get older, and you realize how stupid you were when you thought that. There seems to be a lot of realizing how stupid I was. It’s amazing that our parents don’t roll their eyes at us more often than they do. I can’t wait to see what I’m doing now that makes me laugh at 40-something Wendy ten or twenty years from now.

One pattern we seem to repeat is in thinking that our generation has it sooooooo much harder than any previous generation, and nobody understands our experience, and we are so maligned by the generation ahead of us. And then we get older and turn on the generation behind us because they’re whiny and they feel maligned and misunderstood. Except you’re not actually anti-the generation behind you, you just wish they understood all the things they could be learning from the benefit of your experience and hindsight instead of waiting 20 years for their own hindsight, but hi, they’re young and know everything. Hamster wheel.

I was reading a thread on Facebook last week with some millennials talking about how maligned they are by older generations (I really need to find another word for “maligned”) and it prompted me to send this note to another Gen X friend who I knew was also reading along:

Dear Millennials,

Here’s the thing…

It’s not about the label.

All young people are stupid. And not in their own way. In EXACTLY THE SAME WAY EVERYBODY ELSE WAS, BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT WORSE, because internet.

And someday you will get really, really, really old (like, 42) and you will realize what an idiot you were in your 20s, and you will see it in all the people who will currently be in their 20s, and you will laugh, and you will understand your parents better, and everything will be fine.

Love,

Gen X and the Boomers

 

I have a lot of friends who are younger than I am, and I hope you know that I love you, and I look forward to you pushing me around in my wheelchair someday. I truly don’t think you’re stupid except when you’re talking about being old. 😉 And this isn’t supposed to be a “young people are idiots” post. It’s intended to be about how great it actually is being in that dreaded over-40 zone. Or how funny the passage of time is. Or who knows. It’s possible I lack focus tonight. It’s possible this is because I’m also watching Say Yes to the Dress while writing this. It is Friday night, after all. (20-something Wendy is dying of shame right now.)

But my 40s are great. So far, anyway. Another cliché proves itself to be true: so far every decade is better than the one before. I’m not so hung up on stuff like what do people think or what everyone else is doing. I’m less concerned about “should”; I’m more interested in what makes me happy. I remember clearly the night that happened, too. I had been invited to a going away party for some casual friends who were moving. The time had come to get myself together and as I was walking upstairs to change clothes, I realized I didn’t feel like going, and then it clicked that I didn’t have to. So I didn’t. I stayed home, and it was so nice that I started refusing invitations more often. I got way more selective about whom I spend time with. If I spend time with you now it’s because I really want to. I’m not sure why it took me so long to catch onto that one.

I thought I had a funny cartoon set aside about aging or clichés or something along those lines to accompany this, but I can’t find anything in my “hold” folder. What I did find is this picture of snuggling lions. I have no idea what I saved it for, but it’s adorable, so what the hell. When I find the cartoon, I’ll save it for the lion post that clearly I intend to write some day.

cuddling lions

In honor of Sylvia Day

I just had my annual little cry for Sylvia Day, when I pay special tribute to my first fur baby. (It’s not as though her memory is neglected the other 364 days of the year – I have pictures of her all around my house and her ashes are on my mantle in a lovely little purple piece of pottery.) I recognize that I get super attached to my dogs, and not everyone can relate, but they are my family, and I’m glad I decided to make a little holiday to remember Syl-beast. I read through all the emails and notes people sent me when she died, and it makes me sad, but also happy, to go back in time and remember her funny little quirks and what an awesome friend she was to so many. And I wear the necklace Kristin gave me as a token of healing.  I even got a card in the mail today from Ann Trina. I can’t believe it’s been six years. Bittersweet traditions.

 
I always post pictures of Sylvia on Facebook on her day, and it’s funny to me to see who mistakes her for Ruby, my current companion, but I get it. I don’t have a lot of pictures of Sylvia, at least not compared to camera-savvy Ruby who is a social media icon. But I do have a handful of lovely portraits of Syl and me from a fortuitous event right before it was too late, and it’s one of the memories I always pause on.

 
My then-husband had an opportunity through work for us to pose for a portrait photography class. It was an interesting deal in that they needed test models to practice on, so it was free and you got all the pictures and some of them were great and some were not. We had a time in the future we were scheduled for, and then Sylvia got sick and one of his coworkers asked if we wanted to swap dates with her (thank you, Carol!) so we could go sooner and take Sylvia (which was good for them too – opportunities to practice with kids and dogs were important). At first I thought maybe it was silly, and then I was uncertain if I wanted to subject her to it – I wanted things to be easy for my dog, and I wasn’t sure if it would stress her out. In the end we went, and I’m so thankful for that, because we got some beautiful pictures and it was a lovely moment captured.

 
And it was a nice respite, too. I was devoting pretty much all my energy to caring for and worrying over my dog, and this was a family outing where nobody knew anything was amiss. The students and instructor were great and Sylvia worked her charms on everyone as usual. Sometimes she cooperated and posed, but at one point she got up and walked around the room and greeted all her paparazzi one by one. They loved it. I found out after the fact that I was wrong, they did know she was dying, they just had the kindness and grace not to say anything to us, and for some reason that moves me every time I think about it. They gave us some normal.

 
One week to the day after our session, she was gone. Gone, but not forgotten. Never forgotten, sweet Sylvie-girl. You and our other furry friends live on forever in our hearts. And I’m so grateful that I have some pictures of my beautiful, wily girl.

 

2008-03-18 18.36.19-1

 

SONY DSC

 

Ah yes, the art of trying to get your dog to hold still, look up, and act casual. 🙂

 

2008-03-18 19.31.14

 

2013, you were all right

A year ago it seemed that the idea of a “blessings jar” was circulating all over Facebook. It’s simple enough. Write down the special moments in your life as they occur, put them in a jar, and review them at the end of the year. I’m not really good at resolutions, goals, and the like, but this was something I could get on board with. Of course, I didn’t have a jar handy so I used a vase (which was a present from my dad and created by my artist friend Kristi Jo Beber, so it was already all kinds of good stuff) but for the purpose of this post we’ll just keep calling it a jar. (Aside: Kristy Jo’s stuff makes great gifts. Keep that in mind that for next Christmas or anything between now and then!)  I didn’t always remember to tend to the jar, but by the end of the year it was full.  I wrote on post-it notes and scraps of paper. I scribbled just a few words and once wrote a page & a half about a particularly interesting day. Many of the notes had happy faces and/or hearts drawn on them, because I use emoticons even when jotting messages to myself apparently.  Most of the time I remembered to date them, but not always. And because I was doing it my way, I put other things in, too. Concert tickets. Notes from friends. A fortune from a cookie. An envelope that made me laugh. A series of postcards from my friend Greg. And then last week on New Year’s Day I sat down and read through everything.

Here’s the summary version: I’m a very fortunate person.

I appreciated little things. I appreciated big things. I reconnected with people from the past. I made new friends. I put aside old hurts. I paid off some debts AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, bitchez! I reveled in my family. I took trips. I was reminded of a moment when I was able to use the blessings jar to make myself find a positive spin in a situation that was making me cranky. The overriding theme was contentment, and how can you beat that? Reading through them reminded me of small moments that would have been long forgotten and made me laugh a second time over funnies and sillies.

And because I took my own liberties with the game, next to the vase was a bowl. And in the bowl I put all the birthday cards I received, and more recently all the holiday cards that came in the mail. And I reread all of those too.

Now I’m going to take all of the scraps of paper and notes and cards and package them neatly in some sort of cute container and label it “2013”. Because the vase already has the first piece of paper for 2014 in it. I hope I do this for every year from now until the end of Wonkaternity. (I’ve decided 2014 is going to be a banner year for making up my own words for the wonktionary. Earlier I coined “napportunity”; I intend to seize every napportunity that crosses my path this year!)

I won’t share all the paper scraps with you, because some are too personal and some would bore you and there are really quite a lot, but here are a sampling for the reading.

  • 3/18: The world has the Mondays, but I feel awesome. 🙂
  • 1/17: I had both blueberries AND grapes on my Rice Chex this morning.
  • 3/6: Awesome snow day! Shoveled like a badass. Made a snow Ruby with Dan. Lots o’ fun!
  • 2/13: I tried something new – tap lessons – and I loved it!
  • May: I went on a fun, relaxing vacation with some of my favorite people AND I was happy to come home. 🙂
  • 8/10: Mourtney’s b-day at the lake was a super fun day.
  • August: I can afford to have the work done to bat-proof the house. (This was the one where I was trying super hard to see the positive in the boatload of cash I dropped to prevent any more good bat stories for y’all. Oh, and the rabies.)
  • 6/8-9: Super fun weekend in A2 with Klondike and the Laheys. 🙂
  • First weekend in June: I felt a satisfaction with doing everything I wanted to do with my weekend. And the new purple curtains made me feel happy every time I walked into the living room. I love my house! 🙂
  • 9/7-8: Such a wonderful weekend in Ann Arbor! All day Saturday bumming around w/Caryn, victory over ND, and ton of fun and excitement at the game! Sunday morning w/Brannie, then loading up on food goodies before coming home. Top down all weekend. Happy heart! J
  • I can take advantage of being self-employed to go for a bike ride in the middle of a Tuesday with my dad. 🙂
  • 9/23: 1:09 cake  [IT WORKED!!!] (Did I tell you that story??)
  • 7/23: Ruby finally healed from her incision! 🙂
  • 10/31: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PUMPKINS appeared on my porch! 🙂 Someone stole mine & now I have LOTS! And tap was canceled (kind of) so I’ll be home for Halloweenie!!!! 🙂  (two happy faces on one piece of paper)
  • I love my green sheets! 🙂
  • The day I wrote the long missive, I’d been to a funeral then out for lunch with my dad and grandma. One of the highlights was Grandma telling Dad and me that she had used up a pen, and when we asked what kind she said, “A pencil.” Which caused us to laugh and laugh, and if you’ve ever experienced my grandma laughing uncontrollably, you know it’s noteworthy. And also something a restaurant might not appreciate. And lest you be concerned about her answer, it’s a pen that looks like a pencil; she hasn’t lost her mind. 😉
  • And then there was this one, the most important one of. (Dad, I’ll stop talking about it soon, I promise.) dad survivedI draw a sucky heart, but you get the idea. And the little words surrounding it, which you probably can’t read, are the people who made it possible and helped us greatly: Doctors, Nurses, Friends, Family, Rachel, the Huffs.

 

Happy New Year, my friends! I look forward to your help filling my blessings jar!

 

Christmas Cards and Serious Stuff

It’s that time of year again when the mail is fun. Usually it’s junk and bills and solicitations for charitable donations (possibly with cute address labels). But for a few weeks as the year ends, holiday cards (and I’m going to say holiday instead of Christmas because some friends very deliberately send me Chanukah or non-Christmas-specific cards) bring cheer & sometimes glitter. I love seeing my friends’ kids get older, love seeing the cute pictures chosen to include, and it’s lovely to know someone was thinking about you, even if only for long enough to address an envelope. 🙂

Historically I have sent my fair share of cards. I like doing my part to spread joy and sparkle, and selfishly, I find you receive more cards in return if you send them out. Although I do try not to get hung up on things like, “Oh my god, I got a card from Mary Beth, but I didn’t sent one to Mary Beth, maybe now I should send one to Mary Beth!” It’s not about taking inventory.

This year, however, I’m not sending any. I ran out of time. I suppose technically I still have time but I have resigned myself that it’s not going to happen without a lot of stress and hand cramping, and I don’t really need that.

So consider this my Christmas card to you. If you’re reading this, that pretty much guarantees that I appreciate you!

I have just written and deleted about seven different versions of a sentence trying to articulate how fortunate I am to have so many friends who mean more and more to me as every year passes. Which is funny, because this segues nicely into the other thing I wanted to talk about, and I thought it was going to be a big jumbled mess, but now maybe it won’t be.

In addition to the usual pictures of cats and lists of 23 things you should do to be a more human human and pithy stati (make no mistake, I love Facebook, in spite of what that sounds like) my news feed is filled on a regular basis with people urging you to hug your loved ones and tell them that they are, in fact, loved. A recurring theme in our world seems to be not telling the people you love how much they mean to you until it’s too late. My family is a perfect example. We all love each other very much, but we don’t actually say the words very often.  So I was thinking I would like to write blog posts to each of my parents, sharing the things that are special about my relationships with them and saying the things I want to say while I still have the opportunity. I kicked the idea around a little but didn’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, to be more accurate).

And then, four weeks ago today, my dad called and said, “I just Googled symptoms of heart attack and I think I might be having one.” I thought he was kidding, because that’s how he is. I thought he was going to follow it up with a crack about a political article he’d read or some other silly line. He wasn’t kidding. And in the car* on the way to the hospital, he said something that sounded like, “If I don’t get a chance to say this later” and I told him to shut up. And then I spent two hours while he was in the cath lab sitting in the waiting room** kicking myself that my last words to my dad might be “shut up”.

Thankfully, those weren’t my last words and Dad is doing amazingly well. But I definitely have to write the blog posts now. It may take me a little while, because I’m super emotional about it still and I have to be in the right frame of mind to allow myself to get all weepy, but they’re coming.

And also, this is why I’ve been too busy to blog and haven’t had time to send Christmas cards and have just been generally discombobulated. For two weeks all that existed was Dad and work and sleep.  And now I’m catching up with life. My annual staycation is next week, and I could not be more ready.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happy Holidays. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a friend, thanks for being you.

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Footnotes…

* Life Lesson #1: Call 911. Call 911. Call 911. Do not drive to the hospital yourself. It was a bonehead move and fortunately everything worked out ok for us, but it was a HUGE MISTAKE. If you ever find yourself in this situation, please learn from my mistake. An ambulance clears traffic. An ambulance can run red lights. An ambulance driver is not emotionally invested and his/her hands probably aren’t shaking while driving. An ambulance comes with a spare person to provide medical care in transit. CALL 911.

** Life Lesson #1 2: Have someone come sit with you. It’s not selfish or silly or an imposition. Have someone come sit with you. Call me; I will come sit with you. It’s nice to have company even if you don’t want to talk. And also, if none of your people come, the chaplain won’t leave and that is awkward and weird. I know this because I was stupid and didn’t have anyone come, but fortunately my uncle knew better and he came (and brought my grandma) and so did my friend Kristin. K also fed my dad’s dog and took my house keys and went home and fed my dog and brought my keys back to the hospital. She’s a rock star. And also, I need to give more people spare keys to my house.

(Life lesson #3….learn to count. Sheesh.)

Interlude and Deliciousness

Once again I’m struggling with bloggy guilt. It’s been too long, but I’m busy and tired and did I mention that I’m tired? Oh, and also, tired. It’s our crazy season at work, but every year it seems to surprise me anyway. And life has been interfering with pretty much everything lately, and we’ll talk about that, but not tonight because I’m not ready yet.  And of course it’s the holiday season so there are three times as many things happening and all at the same time, and there’s shopping to be done and gifts to make and Halloween decorations to put away. (What? I said I was busy.) And tired. The Tide and Drano and soda and toilet paper (read: all the nonperishable items) I bought recently stayed in the trunk of the car for about two weeks because unloading them seemed to be too much effort. (Thank you, Klondike, for unloading all my crap last weekend.)

Aside regarding the Halloween decorations: I put them away, in the attic, all by myself, like a normal human. This is pretty much the first time I’ve gone into the attic for more than a thirty-second dash since the first bat episode almost four years ago. Yay me!

Every year we shut down the “office” (air quotes now since we work from home and the office is virtual) between Christmas and New Year and given the way the holidays fall this year, I’m trying to figure out how many bonus days I can tag on. Two weeks sounds pretty awesome, not gonna lie. 🙂 I’m counting down. Wendy Staycation 2013 is going to be a blissful slugfest!

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Updated….I totally neglected to include the part where I’m not sounding lame! I had tap class tonight – woo hoo! I was TIRED (perhaps I’ve mentioned this) and it’s cold out and I really wasn’t feeling like going to class. But every week, even when I feel less than motivated, I leave class feeling happy and lively and in a supremely good mood. I love spending time with my friend Jon, and it’s great to have a standing weekly time to catch up with him. And the class is FUN. It’s challenging and Miss Donna is really pushing us now to learn more and do more and there still is not going to be a recital so stop asking. 😉  I love it, even when I feel clumsy and like I’m never going to get the hang of something. So YAY, it definitely helped me shake off my slump today.

Ok, now, back to where we were before I remembered that I forgot. 😀

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And because I sound of like a downer, let’s move on to something better, like DESSERT! A few of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe for the pear, cranberry & gingersnap crumble I made for Thanksgiving. It’s SOOOOOOOO delicious, and super-duper easy to make, I promise. And it’s fruit, so come on, it’s like health food. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, but I’ll share it here too, because I hate blogs that just tell you to click through to other things.

Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark or light brown sugar (I like dark)
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (About 16-18 store-bought cookies, smashed to bits. You could use a food processor to make really nice, even crumbs, but then you would have to wash it, which is why I never use my food processor for anything. I put them in a large Ziploc bag and pound the hell out of them with a rolling pin.)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-5 large ripe pears (about 2 pounds) (The original recipe suggests Anjou, but I’ve used whatever nice pears I’ve been able to find in the store) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (Peeling the pears is the only part of this that sucks – they’re slippery. Enlist someone else to help, then delegate pear peeling while you do all the “hard” work – thank you, Klondike.) (There are a lot of parentheses in this step!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan. Sure, you could do this in a bowl but then you’d also have to wash that bowl and hooray for fewer dishes. (Thank you Smitten Kitchen.)  (I think I’ve also made this in a 9×13 baking dish before, too. There is plenty of crumble to cover a larger surface area, not to worry.)

Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. See how long you can wait before digging in.

Did I mention that it’s delicious? Because it IS! And it’s so pretty! Look! Pretty!

pears & cranberries, pre-crumble

Pre-crumble topping

Just out of the oven - yum!

Just out of the oven – yum!

Ooh, and I should mention that the Lovely Lettie is the one who put me onto this recipe in the first place, a few years ago when I was doing my annual plea for new dessert recipes for the holidays. 🙂

Butter Wrestling

Alternate title: This is why I have parties

Ok, you now have totally the wrong idea about what’s going to follow, and you are going to be thoroughly disappointed. But a while back I told you I would have a post called ‘’Butter Wrestling’’ and I felt like I owed it to you. Plus, it is part of the story. And if I called this post, ‘’I had a dinner party’’ there’s no way you would read it, nor would I blame you.

So hey, I had a dinner party!  😀

I like to entertain, just in general. Life is too short not to make your own fun, so when things get boring I throw a party or have a cookout.  (Someday when my lottery consortium wins big and I have all the money in the world, I’m going to throw the most ridiculous theme parties. You will wear costumes.) And a major benefit of hosting a little fete is it causes my house to become not just clean, but TIDY! I have clutter. I just always do. But I like to pretend to the world that I don’t, so it goes away when I’m having company. This is great for the appearance of my house. It’s bad, however, for my secret hiding spaces. And it’s even worse a few days post-party when I realize I can’t find An Important Thing that I really need. But the moment of the event, my house will look lovely and presentable.  So if things are ever getting too cluttery, I invite people over so I’ll have to address it.

Back in the olden days when I was married, my (ex)husband* and I created a holiday. He got a turkey from work for Thanksgiving, and we didn’t know what to do with it, because we were already juggling more Thanksgivings than we could stomach (my mom’s side, my dad’s side, his family). Who wanted to eat another turkey? So we stuck it in the freezer.

Eventually, though, we needed to do something with it. And it occurred to us that Thanksgiving dinner is a pretty awesome meal, and one that you should eat more often than once a year. And that Thanksgiving is generally a family holiday, so you never get to spend it with your friends. And lo, Fakesgiving was born, and it was good.

Fakesgiving noun A holiday occurring in March or April (far removed from actual Thanksgiving to allow for sufficient anticipation), involving the consumption of a traditional Thanksgiving meal (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.), celebrated exclusively with one’s friends (and not one’s family).

Sorry, Mom. I know you’ve always been a little miffed by the ‘’no family’’ rule.  😉

So after the Great War, Fakesgiving went into hibernation for a while, at least at my end. (Our divorce decree didn’t specify who got custody of our made up holiday.) But this year I decided it was time to swallow my fear and bring it back.

Fear, you ask? Well…my ex always made the turkey. Remember my prior chicken victory? That was just for me. Making a turkey and being responsible for a table full of guests? Gulp. But people always say cooking a turkey is easy, so I decided it was time to step up and give it a whirl. I had to stick my hand inside the chicken, how much worse could it be to stick it inside a turkey?

Here’s the problem with that whole ‘’cooking a turkey is easy’’ thing, though. All my research was completely contradictory!

‘’You definitely should cook it in a bag.’’
‘’Just don’t cook it in a bag and you’ll be fine.’’

‘’You should put the stuffing IN the bird.’’
‘’For the love of god, whatever you do, do not put the stuffing in the bird!’’

Brine. No brine. Baste. Don’t baste.

AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! My friends and the oh-so-helpful internet were making me FREAK THE FUCK OUT!! Everybody was so adamant that the other way was WRONG!

Here is how I finally decided what to do: the guy I bought the turkey from, who is also a casual friend (and runs an actual meat shop, because now it sounds like I just bought a turkey from some guy on a street corner) said that he uses a bag. Sold.

EEP!!!! Yep, I'm still afraid of raw poultry.

EEP!!!! Yep, I’m still afraid of raw poultry.

I bought a bag and settled on some websites that gave me simple seasoning instructions. I sprinkled salt & pepper inside the cavity. I cut a lemon in half, and an onion, and put them inside the bird along with some fresh rosemary and sage. I chopped up more of the rosemary & sage and smooshed them into some butter, which I stuffed under the skin, and then I liberally buttered the entire outside of the turkey, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

Now, attentive readers, you are probably wondering why the hell this post is called butter wrestling. You came here for a reason, right?

Here is the biggest lesson I learned while cooking my first turkey: putting the turkey into the bag is really a two-person job. And yet, there I was, just one person. This was a twenty-pound turkey; it’s not as though I could just balance it in the palm of my hand and slide it into the bag. Oh, and I mentioned I had slathered the entire thing with butter, right? I had visions of the damn thing skittering out of my arms and crashing to the floor. But that turkey. Was going. In the bag.

I’m not sure if it was good for the turkey, but I definitely needed a shower when we were done.

The good news is, it turns out cooking a turkey IS really easy! Once you get the bastard into the bag, you stick it in the oven and leave it the eff alone. H let me borrow this fab meat thermometer where you stick the probe in and it connects to a display that sits outside the oven and you just wait till it hits the right temperature. Presto, dinner is served! Well, first you let the turkey rest, and then you beg someone to carve it for you, but seriously, piece of cake. 😀

I forgot to take a glamour shot - this is the best "I'm ready to be eaten!" pic.

I forgot to take a glamour shot – this is the best “I’m ready to be eaten!” pic.

And Fakesgiving was super fun, and my guests brought all sorts of yummy side dishes and desserts and Mourtney brought a pistachio baklava that gave me a foodgasm. And I don’t like pistachios OR baklava. We are totally doing this again next year; I need a bigger dining room table so I can invite more people.

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

Oh, and ps, the turkey was delicious!!!

*I never know how to refer to him in stories from the past. (You forgot what this was about, didn’t you? And now you have to scroll back up to find the asterisk?) I struggle with this all the time. He was my husband when the story happened. It doesn’t make sense to say that my ex-husband and I had a party. But referring to him as ‘’my husband’’ no longer seems right either. “My then husband” seems weird and awkward. It always seems to require explanation anytime I’m telling a story to someone outside the inner circle. Someone help me out here. Surely one of you has figured this out by now? How do you refer to a former spouse? Spouse tenses….I can see a whole blog post spinning out of this. Future wife. Former husband. Diagramming relationship tenses. I need a word to describe my ex-husband for when we were married. Hmm….Pandi coined the term ‘’wusband’’ but she uses it to describe her ex-husband now, in ex status….I want something specifically for ‘when he was my husband’ but I think her word is the right word….I wonder if I can steal it…

Under the Influence – Song 2

Welcome back! This was a bit larger break than I intended to take, but the weekend was BUSY! Continuing from where we left off, let’s talk about song 2 on my list of five songs that have influenced my life. Of course, I feel now like it should be Song 2 by Blur, which ps I love, but it’s not.

2. The Victors – The University of Michigan Marching Band

I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s college experience helps shape her, and I thought long and hard about choosing a different song from that time of my life. This song might have been the most difficult choice on my list. But then I realized that it wasn’t just that era of growth and independence that shaped me; where I went to school was a huge part of it, and nothing represents that better than the greatest fight song ever. Oh yes, should I mention that I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor? (Wooo, Go Blue!)

And that right there, that parenthetical, is partly what this is all about. I have a pride and allegiance to my school that is part of my fiber. The Michigan experience creates a common bond, a community, a family of literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world. If I see someone wearing a Michigan anything, I know I can walk up to that person and say, ‘’Go Blue!’’’ and those two words will be an instant icebreaker. And I have, many times. In the grocery store. In airports. And it never fails – connection established.

I know everyone feels like a misfit in high school, that she doesn’t quite fit in, but for me it was true. (You were probably popular, admit it.) It wasn’t that I had a bad experience; I had friends and fun. But I was kind of a nerdy bookworm, and remember those liberal hippie parents of mine rubbing off on me? Some of that didn’t really jibe with my peers. Plus I was one of only two Jewish kids in the school – just a lot of not really being like everybody else.

When I got to U of M, I felt like I had finally found my people. People who got my sense of humor. People who shared my values. People who helped expose me to new things. It’s not that everyone at U of M is the same – that’s ridiculous – but I had finally found people who spoke my language and understood me, who were open-minded and inclusive.  There was diversity galore – it was very, very, very different than what I’d known up to that point, and it was what I’d been looking for.

And football Saturdays? Hello, is there anything better? I didn’t go to a rah rah

high school, didn’t have a rah rah

family –

my parents went to Michigan, but weren’t not superfans (although they try now, for my sake, and my dad loves to watch hoops). I developed a passion for college sports. There is nothing like being in the Big House  with 100,000 (+) of your best friends on a crisp fall afternoon. When the band high-steps out of the tunnel and onto the field (‘’Band…..take the field!’’ Rum pum pum pum pum pum pum pum!) to the driving drum cadence and they line up to play the fight song, it is thrilling. Sometimes, as we go all Pavlov’s dogs and begin to clap and pump our fists in unison, I feel like maybe I joined a cult, but it’s a really, really awesome cult.

I know this is not necessarily unique, what I’m describing. But it was special for me, and still is. I’m proud to be a Michigan Wolverine, and Ann Arbor is maybe my favorite place to pass time. And who doesn’t love marching band music? So here you go, enjoy!

OMG. Was searching on YouTube for a good clip of the band in the stadium (to no avail) but now I am trying to refrain from sharing with you all these other amazing Michigan moments….that’s not why you’re here….ok, maybe just this. Come on, it gives me goosebumps every time! THIS IS MICHIGAN!

 

 

After beating Ohio State in 2011. :)

After beating Ohio State in 2011. 🙂