Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

Thanksgiving and its environs

I stayed in Wednesday the 25th, other than groceries. This was first the Farmer's Market run with my aunt. Generally what happens is she picks me up, we park, we split up and each do the rounds, and we come back to the vehicle once we've got too much to carry and/or we're done (and wait for the one with the keys to show up so we can dump the stuff in the back and/or get in and wait). I generally finish sooner because I'm only shopping for one, and I don't have the insane obsession with greens. (And when I get turnips, she gets the greens so they don't go to waste.) This time my book-of-choice while waiting for her to finish up was Cyteen, which is still one of my favorite books of all time. Then I went out pretty late in search of cranberries. [info - personal] fairlight and [info - personal] zarhooie were both of the thought that I was a madwoman, or near enough -- [info - personal] fairlight was mostly ragging on jai_dit for going shopping on Thanksgiving, and MissKat did that little "Oh you expect there to be cranberries left on the night before Thanksgiving, bitch?" hollow little laugh and started telling me about what to do with dried cranberries in case of emergency. (There were, in fact, cranberries left.)

Also, how Vulcans say "Your Mom"? "Your maternal parent's logic is so frequently in such fundamental error that they have named a fallacy for her." I was giggling all the way home with that and shared it with Twitter first thing.

Thursday the 26th was American Thanksgiving. Being a wise Lunatic, I figured that my aunt was probably going to want to do the walk thing, and I would probably wind up over there (and besides my kitchen is tiny). So I stuffed everything in a bag and brought it with on the walk and this was good. Thanksgiving meant that the dog park was full full full.

Deacon was in fine form and was rampaging about quite happily. "Where's Deacon?" "Up there." We were at Fort Funston and walking on the trail from the parking lot along the cliff. The paved trail is a generous way back from the edge of the cliff, but is still on the downslope, so there are hummocks and hillocks and small cliffs and such on the landward side of the trail too, with a vast hilly, beach-grassy area that dogs run around in and I don't like to venture because my legs work better on solid and even ground. Deacon was up on the hilly area looking around and wagging away, but did not appear to be quite sure where we'd all gone. So my aunt called him. Deacon heard us and came barrelling back in a straight line. I saw the six foot cliff between him and us. My aunt did too. She figured that a smart dog like him would see it and go around. ...Not so much. I still maintain that he saw it, and paused, slightly, as if for thought, before hurling himself off the top of it to flail in the sandy pit below. My aunt thinks he didn't see it. It took a little while for him to get himself picked up and sorted out, but as soon as he did, he came barrelling out of it and straight for my aunt with the treats. Deacon is 11 and his joints are starting to feel it. My aunt promised him his anti-inflammatories once they got home. (He's not on them 100% of the time, just when he has a flare-up or if she knows he's done something to aggravate his joints.)

There was a dog called Lucy there. We know this because her owner was shouting her name appx once every two minutes. Lucy had found a stick that was six foot if it was an inch, and was very carefully figuring out the thing's balance point, then trying to trot around with it in her mouth. This was a substantial stick, too, thick as my fist at the end.

My aunt has somewhat of an ongoing feud with the cooking of turkeys. This time, the turkey presumably was thawed, and she and my cousin set to, making a simply enormous bowl of stuffing from cornbread, pecans, some of my cranberries, and other interesting things. Including sweet potatoes! Peeling the sweet potatoes was evidently hilarious to my cousin, in the way that root vegetables sometimes are. ("At least it's not ginger!") Deacon did not get any sweet potato. The internet was cooking. Seanan, true to form, had exploding things. I was tasked to look up turkey cooking times. The stuff I finally found said that it would be four and a half to five and a quarter hours. This disagreed with what was on the turkey packaging, which said it would be about an hour to an hour and a half less. I felt that I was correct.

Mama called. Everybody talked to everybody, and a good time was had. Mama was calling before they headed out to the place of the family friends that we do holidays with, this year at my Virtual Aunt's place rather than Virtual Grandma's. I really do need to call them more often.

It was then time to stuff the turkey. "Turkey fisting time!" I proclaimed, much to my aunt's disgust. My cousin made an entirely-too-accurate fist. There was too much stuffing to fit in the turkey, which was fairly well expected from such a big bowl of it. Suddenly the oven seemed a bit too small.

Instead of doing something like raising the rack and slipping the stuffing under the turkey somewhere, my aunt put it on top. I don't mean put it on the rack above. No. I mean, she balanced the pan of stuffing very carefully on top of the bird itself. I boggled. My cousin boggled. My uncle boggled. Twitter and IRC boggled. My best friend, when I told him about it after the fact, boggled.

The afternoon progressed with mashing of potatoes and stewing of cranberries and swearing at cranberries and OMG PIE.

See, JD and Ryan collectively enjoy pumpkin. They are the representatives of the extended local family-type-unit who do. (Well, my aunt likes it cooked.) They enjoy it in PIE. I have pointed out to my aunt that I do not, and further pointed out that I recall that pumpkin guts make my hands itch. I was tasked to go through Grandma's recipe box to find the pumpkin pie recipe. I did, but not without going through the things in the top of the box and doing assorted dramatic readings. There are few things more hilarious than the instructions for a long-lost STAINLESSSTEELCANDYOILMEATTHERMOMETER!! read aloud with passion and expression. Then there was the graham cracker crust.

My aunt is not a big fan of pumpkin pie. She started trying to think of ways that pumpkin pie could be improved so it was almost edible. One of them was to make the homemade graham cracker crust nearly an inch thick. Eventually this was glared down to a half-inch. There was a lot of crust because she'd believed the recipe when it said "24 crackers", instead of measuring the volume of crumbs. She pre-baked the crust. There may have been more crusts baked against a future need. I'm not quite sure. There sure were a lot of buttered crumbs though.

Eventually it was time to prepare the pumpkin. Yep, actual pumpkin. On our excursion to the little local garden sale some weeks back, my aunt had been given a free small pumpkin. This was the perfect time to do something with it. I popped over as she was hauling out the seeds. "Hand me that," I said, holding out my hands for the scoop of pumpkin guts she was about to toss in the garbage. "Aren't you going to dry the seeds?"

"Why?" she wanted to know. "You said it makes you itch and you're not wearing gloves. Besides, the seeds don't even look done."

"I want to test that," I said, playing the Science card. "I don't know if it's an allergy or what, and it's been years."

She handed over a great big hunk of pumpkin guts, with the sort of look that told me that she thought I was doing a really dumb thing.

I squished it about in my hands. They were really slimy, as expected. The seeds did indeed look mostly immature, not big enough to dry or roast. All the little cuts on the sides of my fingernails (it's winter in California, hangnails run rampant) started to sting with the acid, but the feared fiendish itching didn't start up. I hunted for seeds large enough to bother with. The skin on my hands is pretty tough, and I remembered that one of my old objections against carving pumpkins was that yes, I could wear surgical gloves, but the pumpkin guts got all up on my arms, and even though my hands were protected, made my arms itch. I took my goop-filled hands and rubbed the lower halves of my forearms, slathering them with pumpkin guts like a surgeon washes up.

"What are you DOING?" my aunt demanded. "I thought you were just going to do a ... patch test, not ... RUB IT ALL OVER YOURSELF." She went on about allergies and how if I was already sensitized this could be the thing that pushed me over the edge, and she really didn't feel like taking me to the hospital. Again. Today of all days.

The itching had started in, though I was still not sure that it was from the pumpkin specifically, or whether it was the drying goo where no drying goo should be. I started to see light red patches (a layman would call them pink, but I know light red when I see it) on my hands, and wondered if I was starting to have a reaction, or whether I just hadn't noticed it before I jumped into the pumpkin guts. I hunted for the last of the mature seeds, dropped the de-seeded guts in the garbage, and washed up. "Next time I'm going to do just a patch test right here," I told my aunt, pointing to a particularly sensitive spot I'd found on the top side of the lower half of my forearm.

My aunt is convinced that I'm nuts.

Not quite four hours after we'd put the turkey in, the alarm on the temperature probe went off. My aunt checked a number of locations around the bird and found that all was well. The stuffing had not fallen off the top of the turkey in the baking process, nor had anything caught fire. We cheered. The pies rolled on.

One thing led to another, and shortly we found that we were running short on time. Grandma's ancient recipe for pumpkin pie hadn't thought to document the oven heat, nor the time. "You should call Mama," my aunt said. "She would know." My aunt persists in believing my mother walks on water. "Mama said they were going to Virtual Aunt's for Thanksgiving," I recalled. "Um. Hmm." I grabbed my netbook and scrambled for some internet. The internet gave me exactly what I needed, and soon I was dialing Alaska. ...And redialing, as I'd used the wrong prefix. Someone in 479 may have gotten a half-second of ring before I realized that I'd needed to dial 455 instead. My Virtual Aunt answered, and between her ("Let me get your mom."), Mama ("I usually look on the can. If I were home I'd have a can.") and Virtual Grandma ("350. An hour at 350, or until it's done.") we got our answer.

My aunt got the pie in the oven and we zoomed off to get the boys, realizing on our way out the door that we had no whipped cream or anything. Emergency phone call ensued. It was a quarter to six, and the Safeway closest to them was closing at six. The boys grabbed their whipped cream, though, and we went on a quick scavenger hunt in the wilds of downtown Pacifica in search of ice cream. My Safeway had closed. The new Walgreens had closed. The 7-11 was still open, though, and two pints of Ben & Jerry's ensued (vanilla and crème brûlée).

There was no gravy, as we'd forgotten this in the shuffle. Oh well! Many hands helped put the salad together. My aunt started slicing the turkey. "Uh... does this look done?"

No. No, it did not look done. It looked almost done. Hooray for the microwave oven. "I don't understand it!" my aunt said. "It was all the way up to temperature. How could it be up to temperature but not be done?"

"You did have that big pan of stuffing ON TOP of it," I pointed out. I totally blame the stuffing. But a turn or two in the microwave got the turkey tasting fully cooked, and there was plenty of salad, and life was good.

I am thankful for my health, my family, and the internet. I am thankful for all the advantages I have. I am thankful for the ocean and the wind and the air. I am thankful for my creativity and skill with words. I am thankful for my best friend. I am thankful for all the wonderful forms of communication that make it possible to maintain a regular schedule of communications with a reticent man more than seven hundred miles away from me, and with all my other wonderful friends around the world, especially including MissKat. I am thankful to have local friends. I am thankful for LiveJournal, and also for Dreamwidth. I am thankful for safe water and fresh food. I am thankful for glasses, for electricity, for Google Reader and YouTube and the time to waste on it. I am thankful for my dear, dear suggestions. I am thankful to have the experience of $DEITY, and the wisdom to know the difference between things I can attempt to prove scientifically, and the things that are mine to believe without evidence because it pleases me to do so, and the ability to make harmony between them. I am thankful for having been taught to think and observe from a very young age, and I am thankful for having the brain that can take advantage of those lessons. I am thankful for so many things.I am thankful I can read.

We eventually rounded out the evening with some Balderdash. My aunt won. We took JD and Ryan home, and my aunt dropped me off. And that was Thanksgiving.

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