A dog’s perspective on Thanksgiving!

Today it’s my turn to blog…I’m Phoebe!

I’ve been here just about a year now and, even though I’m all settled in, things keep surprising me.

Like Thanksgiving, which is, apparently, one of the days called “holidays”.

Last year Sarah and I went to Camp for Thanksgiving while Mom and Dad went to hang out with our girls.

We had lots of fun at Camp. Then we came home and slept for a couple of days like we always do. That much fun makes us tired!

This year, though, we’re all home together. Luther, too, of course.

Mom and Dad believe in being flexible about when holidays happen. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Sarah and Luther and I had our Thanksgiving on Tuesday. The big dogs had turkey wings which seem to be a Thanksgiving thing. I had duck wings which are really yummy and easier for me to chew. We had kale stems and salmon oil, too. It was really good. I think I like Thanksgiving!

Mom and Dad had Thanksgiving today, which is Wednesday. (I think most people do that on Thursday.) Dad is home this week and he wanted more days to eat turkey so they just decided to do things differently. It smelled really good!

Mom says it doesn’t matter when you have Thanksgiving. It just matters that you’re together and say “Thank you” and remember that there are people — and dogs — who don’t have as much as you do.

I understand that!

Before I lived here I was chained to a fence in the sun with no food and no water. I tried to chew through the chain and kind of messed up my teeth, which I think is why sometimes I get different bones than the big dogs do.

Luther and Sarah didn’t have what they needed before they lived here, either. Mom says we can help local businesses and our farmer friends have what they need when we choose our food. I like our food friends!

I don’t really understand why, but Mom says there are also people who don’t have enough to eat. And lots who don’t have clean water. And something called healthcare, which I think is like when our Auntie Karen comes to visit.

That makes Mom sad. Sometimes it makes her mad, too. She types really hard some days. And calls people on the phone. Yesterday I heard her say that we’ll all be safer if everyone has enough.

I’m just a dog, but I agree with that. It’s hard not to get mad, or mean, when you don’t have enough and others have too much.

Here are some more things I learned about Thanksgiving this year…

There were lots and lots of things that smelled green in our fridge. You know, like leaves. Mom says that’s a new/old Thanksgiving tradition.

The turkey came from our friend, Greg.

And Mom says we’re giving away half the soup that comes from the bones.

I think, maybe, other families do Thanksgiving differently. Mom says different is ok. It sounds to me, though, like the point of the whole thing is to remember the good things and try to share them with others.

Mom has a friend we haven’t met whose name is Rumi. A long time ago, even before Pilgrims, I think, he said:

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Maybe Thanksgiving is about each of us finding our own way.

From all of us to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for listening. I like blogging! Love, Phoebe

PS – Mom’s going to share her recipe for turkey broth on Sunday. Save those bones! (And, please, please, please don’t give cooked bones to your dogs!!!)

 

 

 

And a smidge more heresy…

Welcome! Now that I’ve confessed that I don’t do turkey the way my granny did, it’s time to move on from dry brining (There’s still time!)  to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer  minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

Gather your family and friends and enjoy.

 

 

What are you going to be?

Frost season has arrived in Atlanta. The deck is really cold. And, at our house, Charlie Brown and his pumpkin patch friends are hoping against hope to actually make it out of the basement for the festivities this year.

The freezer is well stocked with fabulous butternut squash soup.

And one of the superstore chains is oh, so happy to remind you that you can get same day pick up on costumes.

Clearly, it’s almost Halloween.

Just between us, this particular holiday has never been one of my personal favorites.

It’s grown on me some since my girls came along and there are trick or treat bags to sew and pictures to look forward to, each year more amazing than the last.

The thing that most surprises me, though, is all the people wondering what I’m going to “be” for Halloween.

Here’s the scoop:

I’m going to be a grandmother!

(Not more babies. Just more awareness.)

My “sparkly silver” hair is all set. And a bit wild-looking in a maybe growing out kind of way these days!

All I need is my favorite peachy-orange Oxford cloth shirt covered, as it usually is, with quilt threads and dog hair. Paint spatters are not out of the question.

Black leggings.

And, who knows? If it really gets chilly I might even bust out the magical ruby slippers that followed me home from Portland in June.

The whole “costume” question seems to be almost an obsession in our world.

What are we going to “be” in our lives? And how will we communicate that to others? Especially the little ones who are watching us?

It used to be easier for me.

Back in the day, nurses and pastors had pretty specific “costumes” for going about their business. At least it seemed so at the time. Though it got a bit more complicated if you happened to be a “girl” pastor in the south.

For a while, even before Steve Jobs, I flirted with the “uniform” theory. You know. One less thing to think about.

Inevitably, though, I busted out of the box and wound up with a bunch of random “fun” things that never seemed to solve the what-to-wear problem.

Eventually, I read a book that suggested starting to plan a wardrobe with adjectives rather than color swatches.

A concept I understood!

Three descriptive words for what you hope to “say” with a wardrobe.

(Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

The thing that continues to wonder me about the three words I chose, close to 15 years ago, is that they still work for me!

Not that my wardrobe choices are still the same. Or my life, for that matter. But the message still feels true.

Now, just between us, I’ve tried hard to figure out how to tell this story without actually telling you the words I picked. It feels really personal.

It seems, though, that there’s no way around it. Your words will no doubt be different. (That’s the way it’s supposed to work.) Mine were/are:

Wise, Creative, and Refined

Let’s start with a bit of reality! When you live with three Newfoundland dogs,  actually looking refined is, at best, a special occasion option.

These days, the meaning that particular adjective has for me falls somewhere between the William Morris notion I mentioned recently of having nothing we do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful and moves on to the old quote by Coco Chanel about getting all dressed and accessorized, then removing one piece.

Both of these ideas inspire me.

Wise and Creative have some more practical applications.

At this point in my journey, Wise reminds me of safe, organic, natural fabrics. Almost nothing that needs to be dry cleaned. Layers of all-season garments. As few shoes as possible.

Creative is all about flexibility and color and imagination, with a few quirky accessories.

I’m loving the environmentally friendly, colorful, decidedly quirky clothes from Gudrun Sjoden these days. It’s like Garanimals for grandmothers!

And, of course, a red thread around my wrist.

This year, I’m going to be me for Halloween.

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

“I love to go a-wandering…”

I spent a recent morning in the Decatur post office.

You’ll have a better grasp of what a big deal this was when I explain that I’d do just about anything to avoid going to the post office. Bill will confirm that fact.

This, however, was a special mission.

I needed to renew my passport which is a bit ironic for a woman who, for a lot of boring logistical reasons, needs to negotiate dog-sitter time for a quick trip to the Farmers Market.

But, let’s back up just a bit.

I hate paperwork. I hate government forms. I’m none too fond of having my picture taken.

So why did I find myself leaning against the wall, waiting for the door to the passport kingdom to open at 9:15 on a Thursday morning?

I love my kids!

And this year, we’re going on a cruise for Christmas.

I can’t wait!  And yet, complications abound.

First, there are the usual sort.

When is school out? Who has to work when? Which choices are–shall we say–better investments?

Then there are the somewhat more complicated sort. Names. Birth certificates. Social Security cards. Not numbers. Just cards.

Then there are the really cosmic sort. You see, we made these plans just before the 2017 onslaught of hurricanes started.

It’s entirely possible that we’re getting on a boat headed for several places that aren’t there anymore.

On the one hand, it’s no big deal. I’ll happily float around and teach the girls to play Cribbage.

On the other hand, it’s a huge deal for the world.

I have friends in South Florida. And Puerto Rico. And the Dominican Republic.

Friends who are thrilled that, even though they lost all their stuff, their houses are still standing. And friends who are less thrilled.

Friends who are still wondering when they will have power and clean water.

I also have friends who don’t have the luxury of being able to plunk down some papers from the file cabinet so they can go where they want to be.

And a whole bunch more friends who are trying, with every fiber of their beings, to figure out what you and I can do about all of that.

There don’t seem to be any easy answers.

In fact, the best thing I’ve got is to hang out with people asking the same questions.

Here’s where my list starts:

More experience. Less stuff.

Getting out of our personal safe spaces and meeting people from other places.

Hearing the stories those people need to tell.

Voting for people who realize that climate change is important and urgent and real.

So, a couple of months from now, I’m getting on a boat with the people I love the most, and a whole bunch more I’ve never met.

Pens and paper and cameras will no doubt be involved.

So will some conversations about blessings. And how to share them.

I don’t know what will change in our lives because of this trip, but I’m pretty sure we’ll learn some things we don’t know now.

Sure enough to show up at the Decatur post office at 9:15 in the morning and sign papers, swear oaths, and write a very official check, all to make the cruise, which may be going to nowhere, a possibility.

I’m betting my girls and I will learn something.

Maybe Cribbage!

Also, I suspect, that the world is both huge and very, very close by.

 

I used to bake bread.

Really, I did!

Delicious, perfectly textured, yeasty, golden brown bread in gorgeous pottery loaf pans, scenting the house with a hint of heaven.

I loved the process.

Planning. Checking the pantry. Checking the calendar. Doing the math on mealtime.

I loved the mixing. Measuring just so, even though that’s not my usual thing. Everything in just the right order. (It matters!)

A bit of help with the kneading from the magical mixer. My shoulder singing its gratitude.

Mostly, I loved what came next.

Rising.

Helped out, according to the season, with a light bulb or an ever so slightly warmed oven.

Alchemy in my kitchen!

Then, what bakers refer to as punching down, which always struck me as a bit more assertive than necessary. The heel of one hand pressed into the puffy dough, deflating it before my eyes.

And then, hand kneading. Just a bit, with a smidge of leftover flour, silky, elastic dough on the way to loaf pans for more rising.

Baking, next of course. Fragrant. Comforting. And the torture of cooling.

Actual eating, almost (but not quite!) anti-climactic after a day of music for all the senses.

Take. Eat. Ritual as much as anything.

I used to bake bread.

And how my grandmother used to bake 40 loaves a week on a wood stove will remain a cosmic mystery for me!

Now, though, I am in a season apart from eating bread. (And pasta and most grains. Except for a bit of rice with really good sushi now and then.)

It’s not that I no longer appreciate them.

It’s just that I feel a lot better when I don’t eat them. I’m more mobile. Less limited.

These are great things!

Greater, perhaps, than actually eating the bread.

Oddly, the baking of the bread is still with me, even though only in my memory just now. In some unexpected way, I am changed by the bread I have baked.

By a commitment to the best ingredients I could get.

By finding time for an art form.

By rolling around in the process with all of who I am.

Do I have questions?

Well, yes. Conflicts, even, some days.

For now, though, I’m appreciating.

Appreciating what I learned baking bread.

Appreciating how I feel when I choose, in this season, not to eat it.

This is not an “all or nothing” kind of experience.

Instead, it’s something much harder.

An experience of making room for the many things that are true, even when they don’t always go together very well.

Harder, and still more helpful, I think.

Where have you had similar experiences?

What have you learned?

What difference might it make in your world?

I used to bake bread.

Bread is baking me still.

A Blast From the Past

In 1968, I lived with my parents, a younger sister, a springer spaniel and a golden retriever, in a west-side Chicago bedroom community called Wheaton, Illinois.

I was in the 4th grade while we lived there,  and then the first half of 5th grade.

Wheaton was a tiny town most known for a college made famous by Dr. Billy Graham. (And some fairly well-known relatives on my dad’s side.) There was a quaint downtown area, a couple of blocks square, with a commuter train stop.

What I didn’t know then was that, in the days when Dr. King was killed, leaders of the Civil Rights movement were helping black families settle in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods right there in Wheaton. A child of one of those families went to my school.

What I did know then was that I’d been the new kid often enough to be concerned for that particular new kid.

It would be reasonable for you to wonder why this story is rolling around in my head this day.

Perhaps it’s simply lack of sleep from last night’s bone broth marathon.

More likely,  it’s Turner Classic Movies’ showing of the movie, Yours, Mine, and Ours, complete with Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda and a young Tim Matthieson, who grew up to be John Hoynes on The West Wing.

Yours, Mine, and Ours was the first movie my sister and I were ever allowed to go see by ourselves. It was 1968.

The movie theatre in Wheaton was a tiny, vintage sort of establishment, just next door to a popcorn vendor, who claimed a space half the width of the adjoining alley. It was really, really, really good popcorn, complete with actual butter.

Mom and Dad dropped us off one afternoon with money for popcorn and for the pay phone when the movie was over.

Given the amazing fact that we were almost exactly the same ages that my girls are now, I have more than a bit of trouble imagining that felt safe even all those years ago.

I’m also oddly glad it did.

The news these days doesn’t exactly sound like Yours, Mine, and Ours. 

It didn’t sound so much like that then either.

So, tonight, I watch old movies while perfectly dry brined chickens roast in the oven with some basting help from Bill, and pray that the news will be better and the fires will stop and all the kids will be welcome and love will prevail.

Afterall, we’ve been working on it for a long time.

It may be time to work harder.

 

 

Good Enough!

I remember the Sunday before the first Gulf War began. Much of the world–the portion I want to be part of–was hoping and praying that bloodshed would somehow be avoided.

I was not only hoping and praying, I was also preaching in a tiny church in Tennessee.

In a time when there was really nothing to say, I put it all out there. Everything I had. It was terrifying.

The parts of my internal process that my friend, the fabulous artist and author, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, refers to as inner critics were having a field day.

Who are you to think you have something to say?

What difference could it possibly make to hope and pray in the face of war? 

What if you piss somebody off?

My inner critics clearly did not realize that when 11:00 Sunday morning (or in that case, 10:00) rolls around, the one in the long black robe has to have something to say.

To be fair, the inner critics mean well.

In many ways, they’re either mimicking the things they heard and believed when we were growing up, or they’re trying to keep us safe.

Though often safe in the sense of overprotected and voiceless which isn’t really safe at all.

My inner critics have been jumping up and down again in these days, perhaps urged on by the many requests for prayers on Facebook countered by folks raising questions about whether hope and prayer actually help people facing wildfires and hurricanes and earthquakes and poverty and violence and threats to civil rights.

Who are you to think you have something to say?

What difference could it possibly make to hope and pray in the face of all the overwhelming news in our world? 

What if you piss somebody off?

It seems that the inner critics haven’t learned a lot of new stuff recently!

And, those are not totally unreasonable questions.

They are, however, the questions of comparers and perfectionists and they are not our most resourceful questions.

For now, I’m sticking with SARK:

Good enough is the new perfect!

You, and I, and all of us have something to say about the needs of our world.

Spelling doesn’t count.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the Oxford comma or not. (Well, it might, but not in this moment!)

And, as somebody once printed on a T-shirt, speak your mind even if your voice shakes.

That’s how we teach our kids. Yours. Mine. All of them.

And whether you believe in hope or prayer or positive energy, I’m counting on the notion that enough of us doing it together does make a difference.

As for pissing people off, if you speak your truth, you probably will. But a whole lot more folks will stop and wonder if they might just be able to speak their truth, too, since, afterall, you did.

Words work. Art works. Soup works. Running a post on Facebook to see if anybody knows anybody who has a horse trailer available to help rescue horses near Sonoma and Napa works too.

Listening also works. Sitting with the pain. Staying in the room.

Hugs work.

Money certainly doesn’t hurt, sent carefully to the people who really need it.

The counselor and coach who live inside me, wrestling with the inner critics, have taught me many things.

One of those things is that it’s entirely likely that the words I’m writing in this moment are the words I need to hear.

When you remember, though, that many of the things I need are things we all need, it’s not such a bad way to go.

So, for this moment, I’m sticking with Susan.

Good enough is the new perfect.

Welcome to the club! Let’s go make a difference!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach