Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not cooking like a Pilgrim? Priceless.

As Penny and I waited through the last few minutes of 60 minutes so we could watch the latest installment of "The Amazing Race," we actually listened to some of what older-than-dirt Andy Rooney was gabbling about. His main point seemed to be that we should cast off modern conveniences, do without pre-packaged foods, and cook authentic Thanksgiving meals like the Pilgrims. Penny and I looked at each other with the same "has-he-lost-his-ever-loving-mind?" expression on our faces. What- go out and shoot a turkey with a blunderbuss? A bow and arrow? I think he was suggesting cooking from scratch more than turning us all into hunters...but it got me thinking about how life would be different, very, very different, if we were living, even just culinarily, like the Pilgrims.

No Kroger. No Walmart. No ovens or stove tops. No meat thermometers. No roasting bags. No electric knives. No boxed stuffing. No ergonomically correct peelers. No freezers or fridges. No cooking spray. No Dawn dish soap. No dishwashers - except the human kind. No graham cracker crust. No sweetened condensed milk( GASP - that is the worst part of all!) No canned pumpkin. No canned ANYTHING - unless you canned it yourself. No Pillsbury crescent rolls. NO MARSHMALLOWS! ( probably. Unless you watched Alton Brown and learned how to make them yourself. But no - no Food Network or internet either!) Now that's the worst - forget sweetened condensed milk. No internet? Unthinkable! I can go online and in seconds have THOUSANDS of recipes and advice at my fingertips. The Pilgrims? All they had was...Squanto.

This is the first Thanksgiving that I am hostessing. We will have eleven plus Aiden at our table and I have delegated a lot of the side dishes to my guests, so it's not like I will be doing it all by myself... In fact - I received this charming message via Facebook recently from one who will be at my festive table come Thursday:

What shall I bring you, poor as I am?
If I were a swineherd I'd bring you a ham.
If I were Mcdonald's I'd bring some fries.
What shall I bring you?
Maybe some pies?

Now isn't that the cleverest, funniest thing you've seen all day?! ( I got her permission to use it here. This material is copyrighted.)

But in spite of all the help, I do feel some amount of um...what's the word I want...stress? Angst? Pressure? Nerves? The fact weighing in upon me that this is a rite of passage into womanhood? Those are all a little weightier than the truth of how I feel. What I want to know is - WILL THE TURKEY BE MOIST?! Will it be done in time so we can eat before Brad has to leave for work?! Oh, the suspense is killing me. But this is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. Something I must conquer.

In addition, we are moving Grampa into his new home the day before T-Day. Well, the moving process will take place in the next couple days because we want to get it all nice and set up before he gets there... So yeah. There are a lot of components that need to come together that I haven't even mentioned. It's looking like a big week. I have mapped out/earmarked what seems like the majority of the hours between now and Thursday. God forbid any unforeseen monkey wrenches should be thrown into our midst. Like getting sick. No! I didn't say it! Not jinxing myself!

But at least I can number among my blessings that I don't have to cook like a Pilgrim. I don't have to go through the ordeal of killing a turkey and plucking it, harvesting my wheat so I can flog it into flour to make bread to make stuffing with, picking the cranberries from the bog, churning butter, digging potatoes out of the ground, chopping the wood to stoke the fires that I will use to "cook" over, and hauling home a pumpkin to cut up and cook down for my pie. Not cooking like a Pilgrim? Now, THAT is something for which to give thanks INDEED.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple Gifts

Philip and I had a great time at Lowe's the other day. From the start, I had been encouraging him to use his Dynavox more. Well, maybe "encouraging" is slightly deceptive - I told him he had to use it more! I think sometimes it is intimidating to him to use it in public with people who aren't familiar with how it works. Also, I think it seems sort of laborious to him in a setting that, in his mind, is supposed to be all play and no work, simply devoted to the pure joy of forklift spotting. And I don't blame him a bit for being hesitant. I understand. But I have had to crack down on him; from my perspective, going out in the community and interacting with people is the whole goal of my training with him. Having experience communicating with people who aren't completely familiar with the Dynavox is so valuable. Most of his friends at Lowe's know a little bit about it, but there is enough "foreign-ness" about it so that it's almost like being with strangers. If that makes any sense. In a lot of ways, it's a perfect situation - the people care about him and will talk to him but they don't always understand how it all works and about the fact that you often have to wait a minute or two to get an answer. So it's a little challenging because it can be awkward, but it's very good experience for him. And for the other people too.

So, yesterday, I emphasized several times on the way to Lowe's that I was expecting him to use the Dynavox in more than one conversation. And he did! Oh me of little faith.

My favorite interaction happened like this: We followed a forklift from flooring out to the front where the driver and spotter were going to deposit some boxes into a customer's vehicle. There was some sort of minor delay and we had to wait a bit, and while we waited, I struck up a conversation with the forklift spotter girl who, for those of you who know who this is, reminds me of Queen Latifah. Only a slightly toned down version. With a small amount of prompting, I got Philip involved in the conversation. He asked her, "How was your day?" and after she told him, she asked how his day was. I quickly moved over to the adjectives page, and Philip replied, "fast" and "beautiful." I was so thrilled! This is what I had been wanting to happen - real interaction - back and forth... Oh, I was so excited, but pretty much kept it all inside, just acting like this happened all the time, not wanting to embarrass Philip. Then, Queen Latifah had to go back inside, and she raised her hands like she was parting the Red Sea so the automatic doors would open...kind of making a big joke out of it... and walked inside. The adjectives page was still scanning and suddenly Philip clicked on the word "open" and then almost immediately afterward "funny." I said, "Yes!" and laughed aloud and wanted to jump up and down point and tell everyone what just happened. I pictured myself doing just that: "He said, Open! He said, Funny!" and how, to people who don't understand what a momentous thing this was, it would sound so silly and I was spelling out the punchline to a totally obvious joke. She opened the door in a funny way. So what? But to have the right word - not to mention wordS- available at exactly the right moment is so rare for him that I was just practically falling on the ground with joy! Instead of simply laughing about it, he got to comment on it, and thereby participated in it. To participate in a joke is such a basic event for most of us that we hardly consider what a privilege it is to communicate about humor.

I've thought since then about how there are moments going on like that in all corners of the world - moments of something small but wonderful happening, and somebody noticing, and wanting to shout it triumphantly to the whole world...but most of the world doesn't understand or appreciate the deep joy and satisfaction connected with it. And it made me even happier to think about that. For all the sorrow, disconnectedness, mis-communication, limitations and suffering in the world, there is a vast amount of unheralded good. Boy, I feel like Andrea, with all her philosophy about the connectedness of man. :)

And even if most of the world doesn't understand or appreciate the significance of this small but illuminating event, I'm going to tell it anyway...because I know at least a few people will have the imagination and insight to understand and smile about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November News

I remembered again the other day, after getting a note from Aunt Gladys, that this blog is for some people the sole news source from our family. So here's an update.

About two weeks after Brad got sick, I succumbed to a similar fate. I guess it was some form of the flu - fever, cough, aches, etc. I'm just praying that Aiden doesn't catch it. But this is quite the slippery character - you think you're over it and boom- it hits you again. I have had it for about four days now and one thing I will say is, I am SO THANKFUL for DRUGS! Even with drugs, I have had a hard time sleeping very much but I am hopeful every night that THIS will be the night that I will get to sleep before two o'clock. I have tried to keep my distance as much as is motherly possible from Aiden to shield him from this evil stuff, which simply means that everything is the same except I cut out the best part - the hugs etc. And I can tell he misses the closeness because he comes up to me and lays his head on my lap and tries to be close to me. And it kills me! I feel neglectful and cold! I do forget sometimes and hold him and then try to remember which sleeve I have hacked into most recently...Augh.

Aiden's talking a lot more these days and it is SO FUN to listen to him. A lot of babble, but it's forming into sentence structure, with an intelligible word or two thrown in.

Grampa is chomping at the bit to be out of the rehab place and thankfully, we have found a really nice assisted living place that has an opening. I say "really nice" but what I mean is so impressively unlike a nursing home in any way and so beautiful and with such great amenities that I think I want to live there someday when I'm old. Or possibly before I'm old! Basically, it's like living in a nice hotel with all your stuff. Brad, Penny, Aiden and I went to tour/visit the place after Dad and Mom Pass told us they had checked it out for Grampa and liked it. We picked out a room/suite and the ball is rolling. We're not sure when the actual moving day will be but probably within a week, I would guess. Grampa seems excited about the new place; he's just so done with where he is that any place would be a welcome change, and he seems to be accepting - at least somewhat - the fact that he's not coming home, at least not right away. The new place is considerably closer to us and that is a huge bonus for me.

Last week, I noticed that Aiden had another little sore mark/scabbish looking thing on his right foot where the brace had started to wear on him. ( A month or two ago he had one on the left foot and we took him in to make adjustments to the braces.) This time, I made the executive decision to keep the braces off until I could talk to either the physical therapist or the braces people. I was going to bring Aiden to the braces people but then I got sick...and yeah...that's lasted a while. But today the physical therapist came (yes, he comes to the house which is packing up and hauling self and child to the ends of the earth) and gave the official okay for him to be done with the braces! He has outgrown them and also has progressed with his balance and strength to the point where he doesn't need them any more. Hurray! The PT was very impressed and pleased with all his progress - not just walking but stair climbing, jumping, squatting, speech, fine motor skills, socialization stuff, all those developmental markers...

Brad's news? He works long hours and harder than he should, but I guess that is preferable to him being a slacker. He does it all to support my lavish lifestyle, so I'm thankful.

So there's the news from our end of the world.