THANKSGIVING

It’s Thanksgiving! Hands down, the best holiday of the year. Although not gonna lie, Halloween threatened to edge out Thanksgiving to claim the number one spot this year with all the cute kids and adorable costumes. First place winner: the five-year-old dressed as Jake from State Farm; he was wearing khakis, plus a red polo shirt with a nametag and a plastic State Farm bag to collect his candy. Classic.

But it is difficult, if not impossible, to beat a holiday based entirely on food. I mean counting blessings and being grateful. And food. Because let’s face it, I’m most thankful for the delightful food.

Perhaps it is because I have been blessed with a family with mad cooking skills. (Does anyone still say mad skills?) My mom and her sisters can go into the kitchen with a can of Treat meat and a box of cake mix and come out with a feast fit for a king, plus enough servings for an army. And send you home with leftovers.

We are the only family I know that has lasagna for Thanksgiving. Not in place of the turkey, but in addition to. There will also be beef. Because some people don’t like turkey. Two kinds of stuffing because some people don’t like it cooked inside the bird. There are enough mashed potatoes for all 15-20 of us to have at least a pound of potatoes on our plate, twice. Real mashed potatoes, not boxed, perish the thought. And dumplings, just because one year I mentioned that I like dumplings. So now there are dumplings. Maybe this year I will mention I like Lamborghinis.

The desserts have their own room. Technically, the beverages are also there, but they just take up a mini-fridge under the tables that hold the many desserts. Of course there is pumpkin pie. I think it is illegal to have Thanksgiving without it, right? Or at least it should be. Plus there is homemade coconut cream, butterscotch, and chocolate pies—with and without merengue (see above about different people liking different things). There is lard cake, which deserves its own blog so I will come back to that another day. There are other pies and cakes and delectable treats (including Rice Krispie) that are waiting to be sampled. There is homemade candy, fudge, and cookies. There are other things that I can’t even remember.

Growing up, I thought everyone celebrated the holiday in this fashion. Then as I became a global citizen and my worldview expanded (sorry, I couldn’t resist), I learned that not all Americans celebrate in the same fashion. One year, I went to a friend’s house where rice was served in place of mashed potatoes. Note I said one year; never did that again. One year, I made Thanksgiving dinner myself for some friends who were unable to go home for the holidays. Again, one year. Way too much work for me.

Once I moved to DC and lived surrounded by people with ideas like infusing the turkey in wheat berry juice, I found I loved my family’s Thanksgiving celebration enough to break one of my cardinal rules: no traveling on holidays. And so began my annual trek through sunshine, rain, snow, ice–whatever the weather gods threw at me each year—and traffic, always lots and lots of traffic.

Deep down, I know it is because it’s the one time of year I am guaranteed to see my mom’s side of the family (minus a few hunters, if conditions are right), but it is more fun to write about the food. Now that I am back home in the mountains, the holiday is even better. Well, except for the part where I actually cook a side dish now, but I make my total bad ass husband (PTST) help with that part. There is no driving in traffic or worrying about the weather or if the McDonald’s will be open so I can stop to pee. Just a short jaunt to my aunt’s house and a long jaunt through the food line, followed by another, and perhaps another. Did I mention there are dumplings?

And this year there is a new puppy! Thanksgiving, indeed….

I DON’T GET IT

I get the part where the terrorist attack is intended to instill fear, hence the name. What I don’t get is the part where the attackers think that random killing is a viable means to an end.   I mean, it makes sense to want to kill someone you know: a husband who has left his juice glass on the mantel since Saturday springs to mind. And trust me, there are plenty of people I’ve never met that I would relish being dead: Tom Brady, list topper. Close second: the Dyson vacuum cleaner guy.

But when you are just blowing up shit for the hell of it (pun unintended), what if you accidentally kill someone who has the same belief system as you? Is that just a casualty of war? Or do you get in trouble in whatever heaven you go to after you suicide bomb yourself? For instance, what if ISIS member A didn’t get the memo that ISIS member B was going to suicide himself at the soccer game and decided he would enjoy watching the Germany v France match? Next thing he knows, he is missing an arm. Does he just shrug—one-shouldered—and say, oh well, all in a day’s work for the cause? Let’s be serious; I love Jesus and all, but I’d be a bit miffed if Joel Osteen made me lose an appendage.

My total bad ass husband (PTST) says I have an overly-simplistic view of these things, which is why I believe there is no difference between a swastika and a confederate flag. He claims I am looking for logical actions from irrational people. It is a good argument, and I am a huge fan of Chris Rock’s ‘’whatever happened to crazy?’’ philosophy. But they all can’t be crazy.

Or can they? What if I’m the only sane person left? Oh geez, we are in a boatload of trouble if that is the case. I guess I should stop wasting my time blogging about terror attacks and get to work planning the future for Planet Earth. Prepare yourself; there’s gonna be a lot of potato chip eating, piles and puppies, and off-key singing.

Until then, remember:  love always wins..

NIAGARA FALLS, LAND OF LIES

Before I dive into the falsehoods, let me just say this… Niagara Falls is everything I dreamed it would be and more. If you enjoy a natural wonder, go. Go today. Then go again. I’m ready to leave right now to go back. I would love to go see it in the winter, but I’m afraid I will be snowed in and end up in Canada all winter long, forced to watch hockey instead of the NFL.

falls

Now about the fibs…

It started with MapQuest (do not get me started on using Google Maps instead of MapQuest) stating it would take about six hours to get from WV to Niagara Falls. Technically, this might be true, if not for the wait to get through customs. It would also be necessary to get through Pittsburgh without becoming lost and ending up off 79N and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for over an hour. (For those of you keeping score at home, that makes three trips to Pittsburgh and three times detoured into circling the city, unable to find a way to leave, for over an hour.)

Lucy and Craig encountered travel delays as well, but eventually we arrived at our destination, met up at the hotel, and began our weekend of water adventure. According to the pictures on the computer, it was going to be like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite: lots of nature and lots of nature-loving people strolling about enjoying God’s creation. Yeah, no. It is more like Las Vegas with water. There were lots of ladies in glittery makeup and sequined micromini dresses wandering around the sidewalks at 5pm, looking like they fell out of the discotheque, or perhaps a house of ill repute. The men were similarly dressed; not quite as glittery, but close. There was also an Elvis impersonator, just in case all the other tackiness wasn’t quite enough. Apparently, people come to Niagara Falls as much to gamble as to look at the waterfalls. Who knew?

elvis

The lovely lady at the Visitor Center conned us into buying a four-pack of activities. Here’s a tip: skip Niagara’s Fury unless 1. You have small children, or 2. You enjoy being sprayed in the face with a fire hose. She also advised the White Water Walk was only a short distance from the Hornblower and easily walkable. This is only true if you are an Australian Aborigine. Otherwise, take the bus.

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! How cool is that? I was all puffed up thinking what a super awesome person I was to have made it to not one (Grand Canyon), but two of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Then we began to discuss and noodle all seven, and how odd it was that two of the seven are in North America. Know why that is? Niagara Falls not one of them. (Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Aurora, Parícutin volcano, Victoria Falls.

So…tired from our many activities and feeling like Mulder and Scully trying to cut through the bullshit because we know the truth is out there, we decided to relax and enjoy a nice cold beer. We decided to order Molson, since when in Rome. Yeah, it’s not called Molson in Canada; it’s called Canadian. There was a long-winded story by a waiter with a funny accent about why this is. All I heard was blah blah blah, more lies more lies more lies. (In a truly disturbing side note:  you can now buy Canadian beer at my Walmart.  What the hell is the world coming to?)

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So I drank my Canadian, which tasted exactly like the Molson it was, and decided to believe nothing else about Niagara Falls ever again. Well, except for the Falls themselves, since they did not lie about their beauty…

RTF

Wife states, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m dead.”  Husband replies, “Yes,”  because…

A. “I love you will all my heart and cannot imagine life without you.”

B.” I will be so overwhelmed with grief at the loss of you that I cannot go on.”

C. “I will have to do everything for myself.”