There’s a lot going on in my life lately, but nothing that is easily distilled down into a touching or remarkable blog entry. I’m actually feeling kind of parched right now, without the ability to fertilize an idea into bloom. I’ve spend the last three plus months writing more than I’ve ever done before and I’m feeling I’m feeling it. I am grateful that it’s the last day of November and thus the last day of NaBloPoMo. I’m looking forward to letting a day or two go by without a blog entry and allowing myself the chance to recharge my blogging mojo a little.
The next episode of Fork You, Chicken Soup for the Whole, is up and available for viewing. Remind me not to wear my glasses next time we film, because I can’t seem to stop pushing them up my nose, and that just doesn’t seem very sanitary.
When I was eight years old, smack in the middle of the third grade, my family moved from Eagle Rock, CA (just next door to Pasadena) to Portland, OR. My parents decided to move in the middle of the year in part because my mom read somewhere that kids who transition into new schools in the middle of the year have an easier time of it than kids who show up in the fall. I’m not sure if that logic holds true, but I will admit that that second half of third grade and all of fourth grade were, hands down, the best years of my elementary school experience. For the first time in my life I had wonderful best friends and was not labeled a freak simply because I was a voracious reader. Those were good days. But actually, not what today’s story is about.
We left LA on March 1st, 1988 and drove north in our tan 1986 Subaru station wagon, the first new car my parents had ever purchased. I sat behind the driver, because my dad claimed I kicked the seat less than my sister. Raina and I drew an imaginary line down the back bench to delineate our territory and screamed in frustration anytime we felt the other sister had moved into our turf.
We spent the night in a motel about eight hours north of Los Angeles, someplace off of I-5. I think it was someplace up in the mountains, because I remember it being cool in the March morning. I walked out of the motel room to find my dad cleaning the windows of the car. He wasn’t just washing the windshield, but was doing a thorough job of the windows, both inside and out. When I asked him why he was doing that, he said, “Because we are going to be driving through beautiful territory today, and I want you and Raina to be able to see it.”
All day, as we drove towards Portland, I made a point of looking out, to see what we had passed, knowing that if my dad had gone to the trouble of cleaning the windows, there had to be something beautiful out there. That was the first time I ever really paid attention to the beauty in the world. It certainly wasn’t the last.
I woke up at 3:30 am last night, with the knowledge that I was about to throw up and that I needed to get to the bathroom in the next 20 seconds. It happened again the next hour and once more at 5:30 am. I wondered briefly at that point if this flu was going to kill me, but thankfully that was not to be. I woke up at 10:30 am and feeling deeply thirsty, drank some Sprite in the hopes that it would help settle my stomach. Sadly it had the opposite effect. More puking.
I am an old hand with the stomach bug. For most of my childhood, I was felled by the stomach flu at least once a year. I know the drill well. But that doesn’t make it fun.
Two glasses of water and some lemon lime gatorade (that Seth kindly brought me from the outside world) later, I’m finally starting to feel marginally better. However, I did miss my class tonight, which makes me sad. I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll feel substantially better.
When I have a window seat, and I can do it without being too obnoxious, I like to take pictures from airplanes. Leaving Portland, I frequently do it in the hopes that I will snatch a shot of Mount Hood like this one.
Friday morning the clouds were riding thick and high, so the mountains were hidden from view. However, those pesky clouds were actually lovely, draped in early morning light. They seemed to create a new and ever-changing landscape of their own and it seemed that one should have been able to frolic in their snow-like fluffiness.
Unpacking my suitcase this morning, I realized that I brought bits of animal fur from the Portland menagerie across the country with me. The dog’s course white hairs were woven into the fleece of the cheap neck pillow I bought at the Newark airport on the way out to Portland last week. Silky black whisps from the 14-year-old cat lined the bottom of my argyle socks. Longer gray strands from my sister’s cat Woody marked the cuff of a pair of black pants that hadn’t gotten washed yet.
These remnants of my Portland tugged at me and for a moment, I was fiercely homesick. Upon my many returns to Philly, I have always experience feelings of confusion. I spend the first couple of days back questioning whether the east coast is still the place for me, and I contemplate what life would be like if I returned to the coast of my birth. Right now I am committed to this city because of school. I also have many wonderful friendships that keep me here. But as I approach the 5th anniversary of my move here, I start to wonder how much longer this city will be my home.
I pulled into Philly around 5:30 this evening and struggled the five blocks from 30th Street Station to home, with my nearly 70 pound suitcase in tow. I probably should have made my life easier and taken a cab, but for some reason, I don’t always make the simpler choices.
It’s nice to be home although I am totally and completely exhausted. So tired, in fact, that I am about to succumb to sleep at 8 pm, a normally unheard of bedtime for me. More tomorrow.
My family moved to Portland in the spring of 1988, and that fall was the first time we were on our own for Thanksgiving. In the years before we had always gone to my grandma Bunny’s house in Woodland Hills, CA and gathered around her big table with the rest of the extended Los Angeles family.
That first year in Portland my grandma Tutu flew out from Philly to join us, and my cousin Jeremy (who was living in our basement in those days) came up the stairs for dinner. Dinner wasn’t perfect, the rhythm and routine that we now fall into when preparing holiday meals hadn’t been established yet. When Tutu went to set the table, she turned to my mom and asked, “Honey, where’s your good stuff?”
There was no good stuff, only a smattering of white dishes culled from thriftstore shelves that we used everyday and Auntie Tunkel’s heavy old silver. Jelly glasses held sparkling apple juice and instead of a gravy boat a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup held the gravy.
This year was similarly simple, with an eclectic assortment of relatives sitting down to eat at 6 pm around my great-grandfather’s dining table. My parents and I spent most of the day dancing around the butcher block in the kitchen, each trying to get out of the way of another when pots went on and off the stove. My sister was absent, she’s on tour right now with a bluegrass band called Green Mountain Grass and wound up having Thanksgiving at the home of one of the band members, someplace in Arizona. The dog spent the day looking tortured by the scents coming out of the kitchen, not ever able to pinpoint from where the smell of meat was issuing.
I am thankful for many things this year but right now I am most thankful for having had the opportunity to spend this holiday with my parents.
The turkey is rinsed, defrosted and ready to be stuffed. A big bowl of roasted sweet potato puree with vanilla bean and orange zest is ready to be reheated (I had a moment of panic when it appeared that I had killed my mom’s Vitamix in the process of pureeing. Thankfully, I had only tripped the reset switch). Mushrooms, celery, onions and garlic are chopped and ready to be sauteed in the morning for stuffing. Brazil nuts have been roasted and slivered almonds have been toasted. Slabs of hubbard squash have been separated from its rind and hacked into manageable sized cubes. Green beans will have to be washed and trimmed tomorrow, but that’s okay. We are ready.
I did the apple crisp this afternoon by taste and feel. It is eight apples, peeled cored and sliced. Tossed with lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sugar. The topping is a stick of butter (I know, it makes me cringe too), a couple of cups of oatmeal (I never actually measure), some brown sugar, more cinnamon and chopped toasted pecans.
The next installment in the Fork You franchise (if we can call it such a thing) is up! This is where Scott and I make the base for Thanksgiving gravy in my kitchen. If you’re looking for written instructions, check out this post that I put together last year when I made gravy for a family Thanksgiving dinner in Philly. Enjoy!