Scrapbook: Thanksgiving Table

24 Nov

Last year I really wanted to share my Thanksgiving table centerpiece but I felt too enormous and exhausted to do so. I somehow took photos, and a month or so (or more) later I managed to process  them, but I was so busy growing a baby my mental capacity had shrunk so considerably I could barely string three words together and managing to get those words chained down to a piece of paper or the computer seemed too much. I felt as large and as inert as the twenty pound turkey my Dad and I roast each year. I managed to attend my own Thanksgiving, but I don’t remember cooking it.

With Isobel’s help we had a special centerpiece that year created out of all the things we had grown in our garden that summer plus a few things Isobel loved to collect on our nature walks.

We collected roses from the garden and leaves and berries from the trees in our front yard.

The tomatoes are from our own plants (it was the last of the big tomatoes for sure — that green one wasn’t going to ripen anyway) a rosemary sprig from the bush by our front door, and a strawberry from the decently prolific front flowerbed. (This year I noticed our strawberry plant was mysteriously mangled, but yesterday I noticed it recovering, so hopefully we’ll have strawberries again next year.)

The pine cones, magnolia seed pod, and acorns are from our nature walks. There’s also a peach pit because Isobel can’t throw any of the stones away after she finishes the fruit. If it were up to her our backyard would be a mismatched orchard by now.

There’s also pumpkins–we had lots last year–dried petals from our sunflower garden, and some corn. We grew corn in our garden but it wasn’t happy and it never fruited. This is symbolic corn Isobel saved from a trip to the pumpkin patch.

I also included some greenery from my poppies.

This year I am more or less back to my usual size, and Elias is the one who approximates the size and shape of our turkey. Isobel wants to be in charge of the centerpiece, and she’s managed to charm my mom into giving up her cornucopia decoration. I’ll request that it not be filled with Pokemon but at the end of the day I’ll just want to sit down with my family and have a squabble-free meal surrounded by the things we are thankful for.

I hope you have a bountiful holiday.


Scrapbook: Rainy Halloween 2014

23 Nov

It rained an improbable rain on Halloween, making the wet roads glossy and black like the fur of a seal. The year before we went door to door with perspiration clinging to our brow like the last stubborn leaves on the late fall trees. Even without a drought, summer lets go slowly. This year’s rain was as precise as it was improbable: it neatly avoided the days before and after Halloween, and even the morning of was bright and sunny during Isobel’s school’s costume parade. It only fell as the day wore on, making the holiday atmosphere appropriately spooky.

Our first stop was Isobel’s school, where her and a couple hundred kids were to march past us, the adoring adults, in their costumes. I brought my Mom and Dad along, who provided priceless commentary. They are, shall we say, clueless about pop culture, unless it was something that happened during the fifties or sixties. Teachers as well as kids were dressed up and one walked past us leading a group of kids wearing a large blue Facebook square icon. “Look!” My Mom shouted, “she’s dressed as the letter F!” She also shared with me precious family memories, such as “Your sister was so much more fun to dress up. Your ideas were always weird, Carrie Anne.” And at one point she asked me, “Are you dressed up? It’s hard to tell with you.” (I was not).

The parade was a lot of fun, loving memories and all, and we watched Isobel dance in past us in her Wasp costume, flapping her yellow and black wings wither her arms, sending showers of glitter everywhere and nearly pirouetting with joy. We brought Elias dressed in his Pikachu costume and although he was only watching the parade, not in it, many kids waved hi and shouted as they walked by. Pokemon is alive and well at the elementary level.

We had planned on meeting up with friends, and maybe some family, at some point during the evening, but plans were vague. We wanted to avoid being out in a downpour as much as possible. Isobel was ready to go trick or treating the moment she got home from school. Normally I’d be constantly reminding her we had to wait until evening to trick or treat, but Anthony had seen activity downtown while on his lunch and texted me that trick or treating was happening en masse at the businesses there. I called my mom, packed up a sleepy Pikachu and a blissed-out Isobel, and the four of us headed over.

Everyone mistook Isobel for a bee. She handled it pretty graciously, considering how much it irritated her. One of the highlights of the day was the lady who was about the same age as my mom who said, “What a cute bee!” as she walked past us. “No, wait,” she said a second later. We turned around. “I know who you are! You are The Wasp!” She must have either had grandkids or a healthy interest in Marvel comics. Isobel beamed.

We raided stores up and down main street like brightly-colored vikings, if vikings pillaged candy. She was old enough now that I made her say “trick or treat!” before receiving the goods. At one store just a bowl of candy was left out, and I heard her dutifully say “trick or treat” to it before taking her candy. While out we ran into my friend Valerie’s daughter dressed as Howl. She was out with my friend’s mom, who I worked with for a few years and still consider a friend. We joined forces and the two kids finished clearing the downtown out of sugary snacks.

We came home and Isobel ate a dinner of candy whileI had pasta and fed the baby. Anthony arrived home as darkness and rain simultaneously fell. We decided our best bet for a dry Halloween was to meet up with our friends and party animals the Waltons at our local college. The campus was hosting a Halloween party complete with crafts, games, a haunted house and trick-0r-treating in the dorms. I thought this all sounded very fun, and very indoors. I was wrong one account.

The celebration was outside but under overhangs of different buildings. We still managed to get pretty wet while we scurried to and from buildings, even with umbrellas deployed, but we had a great time. We found the Waltons and Kingston, dressed as Batman. He ran up to us in full bat regalia and screamed YOU GUYS!!! I’M BATMAN!!! His bat-meter was turned up all the way to eleven, high on pagan revelry and high fructose corn syrup.

Eventually it was time to leave and we waded carefully to the car, navigating through the shallowest puddles we could find. We drove home wet and happy and as we drove home the widows fogged up from the breath of our laughter.

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