This year, we hosted Thanksgiving. I was (hopefully, understandably) a little antsy about this. But it went off without a hitch from my perspective, and I'm learning to value my perspective. Since a comprehensive journaling of everything I felt and thought might become a bit, er, boring or worse, truly revealing, I decided to put together one of my favorite things, a bulleted list, of the highlights:
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving in which I was simultaneously cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and giving the dogs a talk about how to behave, I went to the kitchen to begin making Cranberry-Orange relish, a family Thanksgiving staple that must be made the day before. After a careful search of the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, I ascertained that there were no cranberries in the house. I survived a trip to the store only to return home and carefully search through the pantry for flour, which was also missing. After another trip to the store where I bumped carts, arms, and other unfortunate things with other Houstonians, I returned home to complete my duties. After the dips were made, relish refrigerated, and family arrived, I related how I had saved Thankgiving by bravely going to the grocery store. Andy promptly went to the kitchen and produced an unopened bag of flour from the freezer. No news yet on the cranberries, though.
After gluttonously filling our bellies with a feast of Thanksgiving favorites, I pushed back from the table and sighed with contentment. My mother-in-law followed suit. Raider, who had been begging on his hind legs for the entire meal, let out a high-pitched sigh of hunger and impatience. No comedian has ever had better timing.
After eating, Andy's mother brought in a tub of ornaments she had been collecting for him since he was born--a new ornament each year. When Andy was small, he helped pick out ornaments that meant something to him. Andy's mother also brought a set of tin trains (Andy's father is a train engineer). We all set up and decorated our brand new tree and spread good Christmas cheer throughout the apartment. My stepmother and brother-in-law spread icicle lights across the balcony. It means so much to look at these things and think of our family helping us put them out (what a thoughtful thing that Andy's mother did--the ornaments are so special).
Then, Andy and his family surprised me with a small blow-up set of penguins. I love tacky Christmas decorations. The penguins are fabulous.
And we went to the beach. Because we leave thirty minutes from the beach now. Can you believe it? I barely can myself. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I walked barefoot in the sand with my family along the beach, picking up shells and watching little live shell-creatures bury down deep into the sand. It was cool but not cold, a perfect time of year.
A perfect Thanksgiving! I missed some family who could not come, notably my mother, but I was so thankful for each loved one who was there and for the stories told and the memories built. I feel almost taken aback that I am now adult enough to host a Thanksgiving meal, and so grateful for the direction my life is headed. I felt insulated and warm with my family near me. And yet, looking out at the ocean on Saturday reminded me of how close even the far away things are, something indeed to be thankful for.
We have a problem with squirrels in our household. We don't have a "squirrel problem," and by that I mean that there are no squirrels chewing through wires or living in the attic (we don't even have an attic). But we have a Roxie dog.
Roxie has had a problem with squirrels since the moment she moved in with me six years ago. She searches every tree in every setting for the smallest presence of a squirrel--the brush of a branch, the swish of a leaf, even the sunlight shadowing on the ground are scrutinized carefully. Obsessively.
In the morning on our walk, she stops at each tree to check. During our time on the balcony, she keeps her eyes open even if she relaxes enough to rest her chin on the railing. Right now she is sitting up straight, looking out on alert. A casual observer might think she is a great protector. Oh no, she is only a great fan of squirrels.
And my beloved but strange dog even has a squirrel noise. I've heard it twice. It is a long cooing noise, a low "ooooooooo" that I swear I have never, ever heard another dog make. The first time she made the noise I was inside a little backhouse that we shared and when I came outside she had caught a squirrel and smushed its back legs. It was crawling helplessly on the ground and Roxie, visibly upset, was circling around her, softly saying "ooOOOOooooOOOO." The second time was a few weeks ago, on the balcony. Roxie saw a squirrel, but couldn't chase it and sat and cooed for a few minutes while shaking with the intensity of her concentration.
If I were a better dog trainer, I would capitalize on Roxie's ability to fixate on one thing. I would teach her better things to do than constantly search for squirrels. I would keep her under control rather than handing Andy the leash and watching the two of them "tree" every squirrel in the park each morning.
But I'm not. I'm just going to admit that we have a problem with squirrels and leave it at that.
So why bring all this up now? Well, this post is simply a long introduction for a photo that I felt had to be shared.