NaPoWriMo — 1 — A Friend Always Says

“Sadly, this town is not like London” –
no Big Ben to count out
hours of our days
or umbrellas
for sale at every street side café.
No one owns galoshes
only a few have a proper raincoat,
settling instead for a black garbage bag
with holes for arms and head.
Also not like Venice,
though the lightest rain
makes gondolas seem like a fine plan
for transportation, while
buildings of concrete block
belie the mirage.
Nor is it Paris
though we boast our own
kind of tower
and from the hill
city lights glitter
and glisten
romantically.
Not a ranch,
not a city.
In between
somewhere else
and
home.

~LD

Describe “something in terms of what it is not, or not like.”

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Hablando Sola — (3 of 5 senses) NaPoWriMo #17

I talk to myself in both languages.

The musky, chile flavor of Spanish
Seems simple of sound
But, de repente, estoy enchilada
With the unexpected heat
Of words that never
appeared on a vocabulary test.

Hablo sola en los dos idiomas

The milky sweet scent of my native English
— with its nearly inexplicable vowels —
fills all the corners of my home
from the folds of the curtains to
the creases of clothes in the closet
y ni modo I must live with it, living without.

The silky, smooth, liso Spanish
runs comfortably, if not easily,
under my fingertips and over my tongue,
and the seersucker texture of English
me sale facil, if not comfortably
over my tongue and under my fingertips.

Asi que, if I must talk to myself,
Que sea en los dos idiomas
Para que
the day tastes
and suene completo.

~LD

Alebrijes — NaPoWriMo 13


Wild thing
without meaning.
Dictionaries deny
the evident passions
beneath your wings
under your hooves
and between your claws.
Familiar forms tacked together,
you belie the dreams
from which you emerge
sweaty and damp
with frightened rage
and joyous wonder.
Colored in shades that shout
Of sun, heat, and sun again
you fade briefly
only to rise again
on the strength of
imagination.

~LD

Sunday Saving Daylight — NaPoWriMo6

Eyes still shut
I awake to the practiced, stolen
tunes of the mockingbird chief
outside my window;
I love his
teachery ways.
My sleepy ears enthralled
by his youngliings’ answers:
in tune, if not on key.

A crunch of leaves,
already sun-dried in April,
disguises the crack of a bat
and briefly the rustle
of fifty Moms cheering
in the stands;
I break open soft-boiled eyes
and imagine shadows of children
swinging bats for arms and mitts for hands.

A glance at the clock
reminds me time has changed;
by summer schedule
I’m up early even
without counting the hour I’ve lost,
but I envy my mockingbird
his timeless choir practice
that runs on angles of light
not on the hands of a clock.
~LD

The Trouble with Dust — #NaPoWriMo5 — a golden shovel

(with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

Like wilderness everywhere, an urban desert lies just so
Constantly changing, but not by doing much
Its glowing watercolor sunrise depends
Bug-like, upon

The thickness of industry exhaust, a
long time ago, this city was red
with the blood of civilation’s wheel
that dug up the desert foxes’ barrow

Their eyes looked out and saw the glazed
tangles of steel with
eyes bright from dwindling rain
They walked down to the river only to find no water

The maquilas built the dam beside
The craggy cliffs and stones upriver, while the
Dusty limestone glistened white
All around the rancher’s wife’s chickens.

~LD

Mexican adventures with Mom

The chanates (grackles or crows, whichever) were making their usual spring ruckus in the tops of the trees while I was making oatmeal muffins, when Mom came in and said, “I thought you were in here frying bacon, then I figured you probably don’t eat bacon.” I registered the racket from the park across the street and laughed, “Of course I eat bacon, but not often, and alas, not today.” Mom and I drank tea and ate hot oatmeal muffins before heading over to the park to take a look around.

While I filled her in on the general agenda for my one and only skip day of her trip to TRC, she identified plants by their names in English for me and (I’m guessing) tried to take in the familiar, the unfamiliar and the long unseen. The morning was leisurely, and eventually, the chanates flew off to scavenge the day.

About midmorning, Mom and I trundled ourselves into Jose’s cab and went downtown to the Museo Arocena with a plan to have an early-ish lunch at the Copa de Leche, an old diner-style restaurant downtown that I’ve been going to ever since I first moved here almost fourteen years ago.

Mom goes to TRC and finds COW.

Mom goes to TRC and finds COW.


Writing about a museum visit leaves something to be desired, but I will say that we talked about Mexican history (Oh, how I wished for Mr. Miranda, our History of Mexico teacher!), were fascinated by the Arocena House with its hand-pieced parquet wood floors and stained glass windows. We oohed and ahhed over the “portable” desks with all the accessories from the early 20th century that make a desktop computer with screen look positively featherweight. Almost as an after-thought (we were getting pretty hungry at this point), we remembered the Jorge Marin sculpture exhibit, where we lost ourselves again in considerations less historic and more spiritual, philosophical and Newtonian [Please go to Marin’s website http://jorgemarin.org/ where you can find a gallery of his work]. We even made a cursory tour of the bookstore with mental notes for a return visit if needed.

We beat the lunch rush to the Copa at around 12:30 or so, but we were both pretty famished (we had missed almuerzo which is usually around 10 or 11 am, and lunch proper isn’t until 2 or 3 in the afternoon). We ate, talked and browsed the pamphlets we’d picked up at the museum. The bolillos [French-style bread rolls] with salsa instead of chips was a hit, and lunch (chile relleno for Mom, and huevos a la Mexicana for me) was delicious.

When we finished, I had the bright idea to walk down to the Mercado Juarez, where I promptly wound up walking us in circles until we ended up back at the museum. We took a stroll around the Plaza de Armas — lately armed at catty corners by big Mexican Marine Hummers full of young men in fatigues carrying big guns – grabbed a cab and headed back to my place.

The Mexican Flag at the Plaza Mayor in Torreón, Coahuila.

The Mexican Flag at the Plaza Mayor in Torreón, Coahuila.


Because a trip to the Comarca Lagunera is incomplete without a trip to Chepo nieve, on Sunday I decided we should head over to the Alameda where there’s an authentic Chepo franchise (for the uninitiated, the “original” Chepo is in Lerdo, a couple towns over) as well as the pulga, a public library, and a 7-11 where the restaurant Chihua’s used to be. We ate our lime, coconut with strawberry chepos on a bench in the square and watched people, listened to a student banda de Guerra (war band – drum and bugle) practice. The morning was exactly perfect, sunny but not hot, with a breeze, but not windy.

We spent another chunk of time in the library. It’s really a pretty little library. Cluttered around the edges, but the stacks are orderly, even if many of the volumes are outdated, threadbare and scant. There is even a media center with five or six (ancient but functional) computers for free Internet use by patrons. The stained glass window in the library designed and produced by a local artisan and a local glass company took our attention for several minutes as we deciphered what the window depicted.

Finally, we decided to head over to a little restaurant a colleague had told me about on the opposite corner of the Alameda. At El Sureño, surrounded by colorful paper maiche, clay and wood masks from all over the world, we enjoyed a lunch inspired by foods common to the southern part of Mexico. But not before our waiter plied us with a long list of various tequilas and mezcal. We demurred, asking for limeade with mineral water. Even I couldn’t fathom tequila on a late Sunday morning. While we considered the menu, we enjoyed black bean dip and a couple of kinds of salsa with our totopos. Once we had asked one hundred and one questions about the menu, we settled on tamales in banana leaf and a kind of empanada stuffed with fried squash flower, all drenched in cream and cheese. I don’t think either of us was especially in love with the empanada (the cream was a little sour and unexpected — it might grow on you with practice), but the tamal was MUAH! Absolutely amazing. Something about the flavor the banana leaf adds to the cornmeal changes the nature of the tamal completely. Our lunch that day was long, slow and delightful and bracketed by the library, a few gift purchases in the pulga, and the waiter who was pushing Sunday, late morning booze, and the intriguing masks all around us.
El Sureño masks
El Sureño wood masks
The rest of the week we spent at school. The first morning, I pointed in the general direction of things of interest on campus, walked Mom over to the elementary office and went about my business. By the end of the day, she’d been “roped into” (I don’t think this was a particularly challenging roping job) substituting for a second grade teacher on Wednesday, and wound up as an emergency substitute on Tuesday, as well. We came home at the end of that first day and Mom told me all about the first graders she had worked (played?) with, trying to remember names and picking out personalities when she couldn’t remember names. All week my seniors and sophomores hassled me, “Where’s your mom?” they asked with a slight whine (a la first grade) in their voice. “We want to meet her.” Naturally, when they finally got to meet her, on Thursday, I think, most didn’t know what on earth to do with her. I had to laugh. One student needed no introduction and hugged her when he saw her in the hallway, intuiting that she’s family by extension.

Finishing up their proof of having actually learned something.  I have the best students. (I only included this photo and not the others because I didn't really want to post recognizable people without permission. Y'all don't be mad.)

Finishing up their proof of having actually learned something. I have the best students. (I only included this photo and not the others because I didn’t really want to post recognizable people without permission. Y’all don’t be mad.)


I see this view everyday; occasionally with less haze.

I see this view everyday; occasionally with less haze.


3rd floor CAT_southwest
In the afternoons after school we mostly crashed and burned and then made dinner, but we also did a few other things, like visit the pottery shop where I’ve been going all these years for super cool, genuine Mexican things (like ceramic, hand-painted house number tiles). Mom got most of her loot there (a ceramic lizard, her house number with frame, a time pig for the youngest grandbaby, a ceramic plaque reading “Casa de la Abuela” – serendipity is everywhere), and I was pleased to see the señor owner who had been absent last year. One afternoon after class Mom had the dubious honor of hearing me rehearse an Art Festival song with the band made up of other faculty members, far more skilled than I. Mom was duly impressed. Luckily, I have pretty decent day job that I actually like.

When I went with Mom to the airport on Saturday morning, I pointed out the places she needed to know and talked her through what came after we checked her in. And then I left her there and made the mad dash back to my house where I made all the calls to all the people who needed to know that she was safely deposited at the airport and would soon be back within reach. And then, I had a little siesta. ~LD

P.S. I am terrible about taking photos; even if I carry the camera around with me, I forget to capture moments. I hope these will give you an idea in spite of me. ~LD

Broken Events: February after the Supposed Apocalypse

Sixty days. One sixth of a year. Big doings. Or not so much. Discuss.

Here’s my year-to-date in a rather large nutshell (what’s the largest nutshell in the world? I think the shell will have to be that big or bigger).

When Pope Benedict resigned, I was reminded of watching the conclave as a child the year Pope John Paul II was named. The colored smoke fascinated me, even though as a lapsed Protestant (and a little kid) I didn’t understand what it was all about. When the smoke finally turned white, it seemed like an important moment, even though to my eyes the white smoke looked the same on the television screen as the black smoke had looked.

There is currently no pope for the Catholic church. On the upside, a particular Mexican shoe-maker is in capitalist heaven as a result of the gift of maroon loafers given to then-Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to Mexico last spring. I think the cobbler’s gift and his newfound fortune are kind of awesome. Really, they are lovely loafers, and there’s little doubt as to their comfort factor. I’ve been stunned at how frail the former pope has become in these short twelve months since his trip to Mexico. I hope the new loafers help him walk in some comfort on this last bit of his human pilgrimage. What I learned: must get to the Leon shoe expo when it comes to TRC this year. Not, perhaps, the lesson I “should” learn, but I’ll take what I can get. I will be watching for the smoke signals.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/POPE-LIVE-Swiss-Guards-15th-century-tweets-4315350.php#photo-4261397

My mom will be in TRC in less than a week. Time to buy a mattress for the guest bedroom. I’ve been looking for an excuse. Perfect. Insert dancing Snoopy and anxious Linus here. More on that at a later date. By the way, the Doctor is In. 25 cents.

I was invited to invite five students to a literary workshop at the local art and history museum. What a great group of students I must have that the list was long and difficult to narrow down. Wish I could go with them. Grown ups are not welcome. The adolescent in me totally gets that. But still.

My students reminded me how scary it is to be a high school senior. Luisa wrote, “I want to stop time, just for a few seconds.” My empathy would be understandable if I hadn’t hated high school. Next week they will be ready to break away again. Who needs a physics roller coaster project when every day is a new, unexpected, non-navigable high, low, twist, turn, loop-the-loop with unmeasurable velocities? Thank goodness for the reminder that I don’t want to go back. Time to stop worshipping at the altar of youth.

Having said that, well, braces. The bottom teeth are going back right, and the top teeth are going back left. The notorious gap has temporarily returned, and everything is sensitive and nothing fits together the way it should, and eating is a task I don’t even want to think about. I feel I haven’t eaten in a week, though that is a lie. Unfortunately, the food I can eat comfortably and the food I need and want to eat are on different planes of existence. So maybe I’m not worshipping at the altar of youth, but I am hoping that this factory of pain in my mouth actually does its job to keep my teeth in my head, rather than on my plate, which will make the crummy braces diet worth the trouble. And it might be neat if straight teeth made me feel pretty. I am adolescent in spite of myself.

Movies are a good thing for adolescents of all ages. Saw Les Miserables, in the theater on a week night. Poor Daniela had to listen to me mutter the lyrics through the whole show. Never mind the snuffling and snorting snotfest. Luckily, Javert wasn’t particularly good, so the parts that usually hit me the hardest didn’t hit very hard. I loved Fantine, Eponine, Gavroche (of course) and the Thènardiers. I liked Jean Valjean and Marius, but I couldn’t like this Cossette. I apologize. I assume there is something generally wrong with my taste in voices. Still, it was a good movie, even though I felt obligated to over-tip the waiter at the VIP theater after he tripped in the dark and spilled our drinks. Nothing like VIP theater – tickets, less than seven bucks each, leather recliners and table-side concession service. Thankfully, we had many napkins because there was boo-hooing. One day this weekend I’ll put the Broadway soundtrack on and recuperate anything I might have lost at the movie.

A fun movie followed by Facebook convos with former students about movies (like Les Mis) with mixed reviews can be rewarding. I miss those intellectuals, but I’m so proud of and happy for them. What wild and unexpected adventures they are having all over the world, doing all the things they dreamed of and a few they things they never expected.

For the record, it turns out that I am not the only essay writer in the world. I can only hope and keep thinking, writing, typing, editing and striving to reach Professor Lopate’s stature. I worried that I’d lost my companion essay writer when Nancy Walker died. Luckily, it seems that the form has not entirely died out. I’m encouraged.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/16/the-essay-an-exercise-in-doubt/

Nevertheless, I know I’ve lost my proverbial marbles because I tried to turn THE essay into a graphic novel, only to have the essay turn out to be merely the prequel to the epic super-heroine story that I don’t know how to write. I’m waiting for the bloodied main character to walk out of that alleyway and decide what to do with her newly baptized bowie knife. No pressure.

Speaking of creepy, wonderful things, I re-read Neil Gaiman’s Calendar Tales (see http://keepmoving.blackberry.com/desktop/en/us/ambassador/neil-gaiman.html ) for about the fourth time and tried to intuitively navigate my way around my own brain through his idea. I had done the tweet poems from my own tweets, but this idea of harvesting the tweets of others rocked the axis of my universe.

And now I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s March already. How did that happen? Just yesterday it was Christmas 2012 and I was trying to explain to my nephew why I hadn’t been playing Skyrim 24/7 or at least 16/7, and dancing the salsa with my 15 month old niece. Ten year olds don’t need sleep and babies love to spin almost as much as I do.

I have essays and stories to write and all the things.

Did I mention that this time next week Mom will be here?

So what’s up with you?

~LD

Winding Roads: A Mobius Strip (massive revision and finally complete)

I negotiated the last of the airport hurdles at customs, and was the lone passenger who turned to the right, rather than left to make a connecting flight. Many people lined each side of the wide walkway running from the arrival doors between the coffee shop and the seating against the windows; some held up sheets of paper with a surname printed in large, dark capital letters. Others waited to recognize a face gone absence-blurred. As I scanned the faces for my own white-haired lady, I saw disappointment and waning patience registered in strangers’ eyes, and then there was Mom moving in her determined, crooked stride to where the walkway is no longer bounded by barrier rail. The strangers’ faces disappeared in her wide, wonderful smile, and arms warm and strong.

At my departure point, my house, a few hours earlier, I patted the cats and told them to behave, opened them a bowlful of kitty treats. Cats don’t give great hugs, and mine had spent the night on the couch. Intuition (or the packed bags by the door) alerted them to my imminent departure. I said goodbye again in spite of their indifferent glances, as I dragged my luggage out to the waiting cab, and I tried to remember all the things I ultimately forgot (boiler left running full blast, and at least one forgotten change of clothes), but couldn’t think of anything and rolled on out toward the local airport in the hours before dawn, closing and locking the big, black metal door behind me. When I bent myself into the cab, I saw Orion standing guard over the western hills.

***
As we drove through the city, neighborhoods flashing by in sunlight-dulled Christmas ornamentation, I had a parallel experience to one I had upon first arriving in Mexico. Winter lawns adorned with holiday lighting and grinning Santas, Rudolfs, and nativity scenes made garish in the gaudy Texas sun slid past the car windows on both sides of the car. Even with the ribbons and bows and lights and gewgaws, the homes we passed seemed shockingly naked. Windows, doors, driveways and lawns were left shamelessly unsecured, exposed to the wiles of random strangers.

That night I lay bundled under the covers of the twin bed my niece had graciously lent for my stay. I lay there warm enough, but troubled by noises and anxiety. The scrabbling of night animals outside the window facing a big empty field and a small forest of old growth brought to mind Poe stories and horrors. I kept perfectly still, measuring my breaths, being invisible. The buzz of the refrigerator and electronic devices were remarkably loud, and though I could pick them out device by device, they felt ominous. Weighted down with winter, I made an empty promise to pay attention to the volume of electric and electronic racket in my own house.

The surprise of feeling unsafe came over me as goose bumps sometimes do when I first step into the sun.

***

I can only imagine having driven along the streets of Torreon the first time, noticing that every window and every door of every home, every business was adorned with sturdy metal bars (rejas) built into the concrete window and doorframes. I don’t remember finding the measures unusual, but I must have been at least a little intimidated to know that virtually everyone found them necessary.

Over the years, I have come to find these architectural features more beautiful than strange. Some homes are bounded by a metal fence around the perimeter of the yard. Spear-like decorations often menace any would-be entrant from the upper railing of the fence. “There will be no climbing,” they shout. Other homes are surrounded by walls of concrete block along the top of which the sun dances among a garden of colorful broken glass set in concrete.

Occasionally, I wonder who the bars protect, me or random strangers who might want whatever it is they think I have. But these days, I’m merely glad to have them. Combined with the home alarm, the bars on all the windows and on the carport and over the atrium keep me safer. I try not to think about the fact that should someone find the weak point in my defenses, I am left without an escape hatch. I try not to rehearse how I will manage to get out in one piece, but sometimes I rehearse escape anyway: bathrobe, keys, panic button, steady sanity to get the key in the deadbolt, out of the deadbolt, my Self out the door, locking it behind me. My heart races picturing my bare feet slipping and sliding on the slick tile floors as I flee.

***

The next morning, while my coffee heated, I checked door placement in Mom’s house and figured I had a reasonable chance for escape if needed (God forbid). While I stood there pondering doors, and how fast I could get from the laundry room, across the garage and out to the yard, I realized about the windows. They lock, of course, but they are not troubled by the permanent and unyielding adornment of rejas. I felt my body and brain let go of anxiety all at once as I stirred a little sugar into the coffee. Maybe they weren’t there to protect me, but they weren’t keeping me from running away, either.

***

As the plane circled above the city on my return flight a week or so later, I watched Orion doing cartwheels at the apex of the inky winter sky. I smiled at his undignified behavior, and my own. I picked up my suitcases at the luggage carousel — bookended by soldiers with big guns — negotiated immigration (where I was scolded for my tattered and beaten up residency booklet) and customs and walked toward the frosted glass doors of the arrival area. I turned right through a crowd of expectant faces; some held up sheets of paper with a surname printed in large, dark capital letters. Others waited to recognize a face gone absence-blurred. I grinned at their disappointment and waning patience, and kept walking to the terminal exit, where I hailed a cab. We made our way through the neighborhoods still lit up with Christmas. Lights wrapped white or multi-colored stripes around rejas outside windows, gates and doors. Their light warmed my heart and welcomed me home. ~LD

Turn Us To Stone

Tonight under a waning early-winter moon,
the smack of gunfire fresh, but distant, on the air,
I’d like to be among the stones
that line the cliffs along
the banks and tributaries
at the presa.
I’d like to stroll —
water rushing off on emergencies
great and small, etching a soundtrack —
and there among the wild grasses, run cool hands
over the faces of those ancient, stony watchers.
The heat of desert sun,
not forgotten, still rising from their skin.

Skin that was aged and pitted when
Revolutionaries rode through
with revolvers and rifles at the ready.
Skin that warms the hides
of a hundred beady lizard eyes —
witnesses to destruction
and foundation for rebirth.
Solid, warm, stones
resonant and humming with the lyrics
to thrilling songs and stories
of a lover at home
of liberty
of life.

I’d like to lean back into their heat
and absorb their ability to stand
Still and silent and strong
in the face of destruction.
Waiting,
watching
for change.
The Revolutionaries
would weep
in their copas
to hear the squeal of sirens
stark and bright under a waning moon.
I want to touch beloved, mighty, wise stones
that they could
banish human greed and
return us, lowly wanderers,
to flesh and motion and joy.

~LD

Happy Thanksgiving, Peppermint Patty!

Well, I’m not quite the blockhead Charlie Brown was trying to grow out of being, but make no mistake, I’m among his crew.  Not as cute as Snoopy (my ears are too short and I’ll never be Joe Cool), I pick Peppermint Patty. We are similar in temperament: a little too eager, but admirably “go thing do.”  I have high hopes that we will not be reduced to popcorn and toast. Such a reduction would be particularly disastrous, as I have neither popcorn for popping nor bread to toast.

I do Thanksgiving dinner (potluck style) for my Mexican friends / adopted family every year, and every year I’m sort of vaguely terrified there will not be enough food to go around.  My usual invitation list is around ten people total including me.  Usually a few less.  This year I invited something like fifteen people.  Actually, I’m not sure how many I invited because there are at least two ways to figure the numbers: with kids and spouse, and without (also, with kids, no spouse, and with spouse no kids – too many variables.)  So Saturday, after sending out the “official” invite, I was beside myself with mathematical conundrums.

Here I need to digress briefly to apologize for still not having adjusted fully to the metric system. Early on, I made some rough equivalents for temperature, weight, and volume that worked reasonably well to get by and then I never really did anything to incorporate the “new” system in a more realistic fashion.  So when it comes to temperatures, I know that 32°F is 0°C, 32°C is roughly 90°F, and anything over 37°C is over 100°F.  When I cook, if the recipe is in one of my US cookbooks, or if it’s out of my memory, I have to get online and go to a temperature converter to get the right oven setting.  When it comes to weights, it’s very little different. To get a pound of hamburger, I buy a half kilo.  On a day-to-day basis these estimates have worked fine for me. But Monday when I went to get the bird, all went awry.

I was still in the midst of doing all the math to count guests when I went to get the official bird on Monday morning.   The first confusion was figuring I needed about a pound per person, so I was looking for the wrong sized bird to begin with.  To exacerbate matters, I looked at the weight of the (big busty beautiful) bird, but I “forgot” how important the decimals are, so I only looked at that main number.  A lovely, round eight.  My favorite number.  About 16 pounds, very big, but not out of the realm of reality. Actual weight: 8.773 kilos or 19.3 pounds.  Swift would be proud.  I bought the turkey equivalent of a small child. Naturally, by the time I realized, I was home and the bird had been in the fridge thawing for two days. Swiftian turkey it is, then.

The next conundrum I would have had regardless of the turkey’s weight.  I have a half-size oven.  Even a decent sized roasting chicken is a trick to squeeze in there.  A couple of years ago, to combat the problem of a small oven and a cook with delusions of grandeur, I studied my cookbooks, consulted my official kitchen assistant (Mom) and figured I could cut the bird into six pieces and strategically pile them inside the browning bag so that the fattest pieces sit on top of the breast to keep it moist.  The bird does fit, sort of, into the oven in this way.  But I have to be sure that the door closes completely and that no little bits of browning bag are sticking out anywhere, and that there’s a little room at least above for the bag to expand. But I get ahead of myself; first the bird must be cut up, and since I bought it at a store without a butcher, I have to do it myself.

Remembering the disgusting mess that I made of my kitchen last time (you really don’t want to know; suffice it to say I’m still not convinced that all the turkey flesh is off my kitchen walls and window from that first experiment), I made a plan.  I sharpened my knife. Though much too small for the job of cutting anything more ambitious than veggies for soup, it is a good little kitchen knife. I got out the carpenter’s tape and two big trash bags.  I moved the dining room table into the middle of the dining area (away from the books and walls), cut open the trash bags and taped them to the tabletop.  I got out my two, two-gallon soup pots to put pieces in as I worked, and then I went for the bird.

I will spare you the details, but I’m happy to report that it only took forty-five minutes and a little patience to cut the bird into the pieces I needed, pull up the icky-fied trash bags, mop the floor and deposit bird pieces in the fridge.  As we speak, the bird is waiting patiently inside the browning bag for the hour to arrive.  The magic hour is 2 pm.

Around 1:30 I will retoast the cheese puffs.  They won’t be warm when folks get here, but they will at least be revived and a little crispy.  They’re good cold anyway.  I’ll have a nap before the game starts at 3. Around 4:30 I’ll begin the negotiation with my microwave (it only works in 30 second spurts; sometimes I can coax it into running for a minute at a time) to reheat this year’s experimental dish: roasted pumpkin with rajas (strips of roasted poblano pepper), seasoned with toasted cominos and served with cream.  I tried it.  I like it, but it’s very very different.  Standing in line, ready to go are the American-style queso dip, a pecan pie, an apple crisp, a platter of olives, pickles, and cured meats. Someone is bringing rolls, someone else mashed potatoes, there’s a salad, a cheese tray and I don’t know what else.

As folks start to trickle in around 5 this afternoon there will be enough to keep our fingers and tummies busy and happy. The company will be great and I will be wishing that you all could be here, too.  Come on over from Tel Aviv, from Mozambique, from Singapore, from Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri; from Abilene and Fort Worth, Texas and all the other places in the world where you are and graze with us and laugh, play a little guitar and sing.  As I’ve gone about all the preparations this week, I’ve thought of all of you in different ways and for different reasons and I’m glad you were here with me in thought.  I wish you all the blessings of this Thanksgiving Day, whether you are dining on turkey and fixings or popcorn and toast. ~LD