You know how once in a while you’ll look at your calendar and see a few blank squares and go (silently) yippee!–a few days to catch up, read, watch TV, or whatever is your favorite way to fill uncommitted time?
Even in the pandemic, with all the staying at home, I still have weeks that are filled with doctor appointments, errands (pharmacy, library) and taking the granddaughter to her one daily in-person class.
But last Thursday there were those blank squares (except for the school thing). This is how those days went:
First thing, I noticed the deer had eaten the flowers off the cyclamen I just planted. We’re in drought and the deer must really be hungry to eat flowers.
While we were getting ready to leave for school, a bird got in the house. We opened doors and windows and it soon found its way out, but I was cleaning up droppings in odd places for a few days. (This has happened before and they are drawn to the high clerestory windows, which is the worst place to be trapped. I’m glad this one got out quickly.)
I dropped the child off, picked up a prescription at the drive-through, and by the time I got home there was a flurry of messages and texts regarding her returning to school after Thanksgiving break. I quickly arranged to go in for a conference with her, the counselor and the school psychologist to work out a plan. Afterwards she had her favorite treat, Starbucks, including a snowman cookie. Then she began ordering clothes online, her first priority (rather than finishing up all her online work, because she’ll have different teachers).
Friday was grocery shopping, which is anything but routine. Between the pandemic and our bright, shiny new (huge) store, even getting there at 8 a.m. I found myself dizzy and disoriented wending my way through the unfamiliar and overstimulating space. I got a small-ish turkey for our small Thanksgiving–us plus one neighbor, a widow who would otherwise be alone. (We’ve agreed, sadly, with out-of-town family to avoid risk this year.)
Saturday was my husband’s birthday, and granddaughter wanted to bake a lemon cake. Naturally she found a complicated three-layer job–I would have done a loaf, sheet or Bundt. She zested and juiced the lemons and did the measuring while I ran my ancient (harvest gold!) Sunbeam mixer. Once it was in the oven I needed to deal with an awful smell in the garage. It smelled like burned (or burning) rubber, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from–no smoke or flames.
So I called 911 and asked for the fire department to check it out. The truck with flashing lights (but no siren, thank you) got the neighbors’ attention. The squad was wonderful. One used a heat sensor to try to find hot spots. They went around the breakers, the outlets, outside by the AC and pool pump, and into the garage attic! Finally, they pulled out the refrigerator and determined the smell was coming from the back of it. The motor wasn’t running too hot but they recommended turning it off. It was immediately unplugged. I thanked the firemen and dealt with moving everything into the house, while also keeping an eye on the cake’s progress.
Naturally, the fridge had Thanksgiving items in it, including the turkey, beer and wine (that’s why it’s known as a “beer fridge”), bottles of water I fill and keep for emergencies, and the like. The inside refrigerator is now crammed full. (The old one is 21 years old and not worth repairing so we’ll live without it for now.) After making the cake icing and cleaning up, I was exhausted but too wired to nap.
We had a nice birthday dinner (salmon, asparagus, baked potato and the lemon cake.) I went to bed early.
Sunday really was uneventful. I walked the dog, did Zoom church, read, napped. No school this week. Today I made this little ornament. I’m going to get different colored yarn and make them for small gifts (teachers, neighbors). They are super-easy to make. Instructions are here.
Poke, poke in the ribs–Chloe’s usual way to wake me. Exhausted from hosting Thanksgiving, I had gone to bed when the grandkids did. I looked at the clock: 8:50! They let us sleep in!
Soon the bed was a maelstrom of wrestling, pillow-tossing and mayhem, which I quickly escaped.
At breakfast we sorted out roles: the kids were Rogues, who created chaos, Gary was Rogaine, who, of course, restored hair, and I was Roguette, who restored (or tried to restore) order in the universe.
Bryan had plans with his dad and I promised Chloe we’d go to the carnival. When we got there we learned it didn’t open till 4, so we went to Mayfield Park to see the peacocks,
which are looking a bit bedraggled this time of year. We walked down the trails leading to a beautiful flowing creek (a real treat after a drought year).
After a brief stop at Laguna Gloria we headed home for lunch. Later we returned to the money pit, um, carnival. Chloe won a fluffy stuffed dog (“Fluffy”) by popping balloons with darts, and we rode on enough rides to spend all my cash and make me nauseated.
That evening we watched the (Mark Wahlberg) version of “Planet of the Apes.” We had seen the older film (with Charlton Heston) a few months ago, and Chloe was fascinated by the story. Next we had “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” cued up.
Thanksgiving weekend is essentially “Fall” in central Texas. Out walking and playing tag around the condo complex Saturday morning, we found enough leaves to rake up into a pile, which took longer than the time we actually played in the leaves, but on such a beautiful day it was worth it to be outside.
All that yard “work” tired us out and we took a nap. Then Chloe painted and decorated old light bulbs with acrylic paints for Christmas ornaments. I’ll probably hang them from a tree in the courtyard. She also made snowflakes from a book of stencils I bought in the Brooklyn Museum gift shop, using glitter crayons also found at the Brooklyn shop.
Saturday night was a double-feature: “Annie” (the old version from the 80s) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” On her next visit we’ll try for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which releases on DVD this week. Did I mention she’s fascinated by these stories–she roots for the apes.
Sunday morning we invited the next-door neighbor girl, who is 11, over to play, and we went to a neighborhood park. By this time they were a bit jaded and bored, but we climbed rocks chased around with a spunky 4-year-old named Ginger.
I am rarely still, always doing something–knitting, writing, cleaning, reading. But when I am with those kids I am in the moment and not thinking about what needs to be done (until about time for Chloe to leave, when I notice the piles of laundry).
When I took Chloe home, the dog jumped into the car to greet me. Must have been the turkey scraps I fed her on Thursday. Best Thanksgiving I can remember in a long time.
Around 3 a.m. on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, 1953, the French Line ship Liberté sailed into New York harbor. Among the huddled masses gathered on her deck was the Wiggins family–my parents, sister, brother and me. It was chilly and wet and the statue wasn’t even lit up, but we were not about to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A few obstacles delayed our entry. Customs presented a scare when my sister was found to have a forgotten dried-up apple in the bottom of her bag. Then our hearts were in our mouths as the immigration agent held our mother’s chest x-rays up to the light, despite the fact that we had procured all our documents from the American Embassy in London, and Mom had been cleared of her post-war TB.
Not having hotel funds for the two nights before our train to Ohio, an extremely generous shipmate let the five of us stay in her Manhattan apartment. I still remember her name 61 years later: Ivy Zetheras.
My dad was fascinated by the Automat, where we ate several meals. I remember virtually nothing else about those two days. I was 8 1/2.
After the train ride to Ohio we were greeted by our American sponsors and soon welcomed with the most lavish amount of food I had ever seen, in the form of Thanksgiving. It was overwhelming–strangers, unfamiliar food, weird combinations (fruit with meat? jello with a meal rather than dessert?).
My husband and I spent last week in New York. After a very cold spell during which we visited museums and saw shows, Sunday promised a mild and sunny day, a perfect opportunity to visit the World Trade Center site and the new High Line Park.
When I realized we were near Battery Park, and remembering it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I wanted to get a glimpse of Lady Liberty. In 2000 we had taken the boat ride to the statue and also visited Ellis Island, so now on our last day in New York, a peek would suffice.
I’ll write more about the sights and shows, exhibits and our ventures into three boroughs in future posts, after tomorrow’s celebration of my 62nd Thanksgiving in America. With gratitude, I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving.