Hallmark started showing all those sappy, formulaic Christmas movies I love the day after Halloween. That was way too early for me so I haven’t watched any of them. But I did tape a few of my favorites and Thanksgiving night I was in the perfect mood to watch one of them, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” with Henry Winkler as Uncle Ralph. This movie is more of a warm comedy than a sap fest, i.e. taking in a handsome stranger who is a chef who befriends Uncle Ralph on the flight in (by a divorcee with a young son). What I always love is that she has a nosy, compulsive neighbor, who chides her about not having her Christmas lights up–everyone’s house on the block has white lights. So the chef puts the lights up for her and comes a knock on the door and it’s the neighbor pointing out that among all the white lights on her house there is one, single RED light. It’s driving her crazy and she asks that it be changed, but the handsome chef tells her it’s the legend of the Portuguese candle and can’t be removed. They go back inside and Uncle Ralph’s niece tells him, “you did that just to drive her crazy, didn’t you?” When he says yes, she replies, Thank You! I love that. They haven’t shown, “The Christmas Card” yet, my favorite, but I did watch “A Very Merry Mixup” last night that I also like. Some of them, believe or not, are too saccharine for me to take and I don’t watch all of them. Haven’t quite gotten into the Christmas spirit yet, still wondering how it will come to me, but first I know I have to get through tomorrow, December 1, idly wondering if tears will come tomorrow or not. Will definitely go to Mass tomorrow and offer it for Daddy. Since today is November 30, wow, just realized it’s the last day of the month, already, that also mean today was time to start the St. Andrew Novena, a tradition I’ve held for the last twenty-five years, said every day until Christmas Eve.
Beginning to suspect, after an online search and comparing symptoms, that I might have osteoarthritis. I thought rheumatoid at first, but symptoms don’t match. It also said osteoarthritis is relieved by exercise, ah, the swimming…maybe to loosen by back and legs before riding my new bike, I’ll try the elliptical in the gym for a time and see what happens. What a revolting development this is…but things could be so much worse.
I am not a regular viewer of Judge Judy; she’s on during the weekdays and while I’ve always liked her, it’s probably been over ten years since I watched her. But the other day I was home and for some reason I was is in the mood to watch her. Now, the local Fox affiliate, Channel 8, shows two straight hours of her shows and I got hooked on all episodes.
First, not to sound uncharitable, while sounding uncharitable, I have to observe that there is some trash appearing to fight cases in her courtroom and what’s more, they are stupid trash.
Having said that, let me turn to Judge Judy. She almost made me cry because of Mom. Now Mom’s manner was much softer than Judge Judy’s, she had a beautiful speaking voice without a trace of accent, but there was Judge Judy reminding me so much of Mom–her feistiness, her inability to suffer fools, her ability to call a spade a spade and lacerate right to the heart of the issue, and her spirit…even her hairstyle, a bit…it made me miss Mom so much–our banter, even our quarrels, and the way she could cut right to the essence of nearly everything and give the right perspective. Laughing to myself remembering something rather telling that happened when I was around ten or eleven…it was a Sunday afternoon and she was washing pots and pans from Sunday dinner and told me I couldn’t go someplace I wanted to go. I pitched a fit, sassing her, telling her how hard my life was, etc., when she had enough and threw a pot flat down on the floor, and cried, “Where do you get that temper from!” I guess that answered that, in retrospect. (I don’t throw things.)
True to my word I didn’t budge yesterday; thank God for Pepto Bismol, the nausea and stomach crud stopped mid morning but I was lethargic and just stayed en boudoir in the sunny room that badly needs dusting, watched a really riveting taped episode of “Paranormal Witness,” a true tale that marines sent to Afghanistan in 2009 told about sixty days they spent on a OP knoll as lookouts and were terrorized by ghosts of Russian soldiers. I believed these guys and this wasn’t the standard haunted house story. I don’t know what it is about Fridays and Saturdays that makes you want to watch paranormal or scary stuff; I’m never in the mood for this during weekdays and seldom on Sundays, but sometimes.
From there I read,”Natchez Burning,” all nearly 1,400 pages of it until I finished it at 11 PM last night. This was a good book and there’s a character in it who writes for a Concordia parish newspaper investigated the decades old race crimes and atrocities performed by the Klukkers in the sixties. Iles actually dedicated his book to the actual reporter who did these series of stories, Stanley Nelson at the tiny Concordia Sentinel, whose life was threatened constantly for his work. I think I’m getting Alzheimers, either that or I’ve written so many articles for Louisiana Life now for nearly fourteen years, but I’m pretty sure I wrote about his work in one of the Arounds (Louisiana). Goodness, I’m guestimating I’ve written well over a thousand pieces for them by now. Very good book, a sad, moving and lovely love story involving Penn Cage’s father interwoven into the plot, and this is the first book in a trilogy and I happened to check out the second volume, “The Bone Tree,” along with this one and I will start that today. I like most of the characters but there’s something about Penn’s fiancee, Caitlin, that rubs me the wrong way.
It was nice to rest and read all day yesterday but unfortunately my lower back stiffened so much from not moving it was torture to get up. Think I’m going to have to be like Mimi who lived in a rocking chair when she was up and about because it helped her back and knees. My old cane rocker has certainly helped me from time to time when I sit in it.
Not feeling entirely up to snuff today, so I will take it easy. I’m pleased I gauged the Thanksgiving leftovers to be eaten by Sunday and nothing was wasted. The only thing I have a lot of is the sweet potato puree and the cranberrry sauce (because I kept forgetting to take it out of the fridge), Thawed half of a roast and I’m making pot roast now half Julia Child and half Miss Etta (who made the best pot roast and beef stew in the world). Like Julia and unlike Mom, I am using red wine. Cooking some chicken noodle soup for lunches during the week, and threw the remainder of the little turkey breast carcass in as the stock simmers; Pot roast for suppers; today also roasting two thick, lean gorgeous center cut pork chops over a bed of onion, seasoned with thyme, and I threw parsnips in for good measure.
Here’s a link to a story about Nelson’s work and Iles book closely follows what happened. He knows New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi very well. Iles, I mean. I can’t say he has once been unfair in the way he has written about things that have happened here, and especially regarding Katrina.
Awakened with nausea early this morning and have stomach crud; not getting out of my jammies, bed, or apartment today. My bedroom is sunny right now, going to read, and watch a couple of taped programs. I don’t need one thing from the grocery and certainly don’t have to cook except maybe some rice until my stomach calms down. Glad this happened today and not yesterday. Although I’m feeling bad, it’s a relief not to have to rush anywhere today.
Night has almost fallen now that 5:24 PM CST; in the East the sky is a dark stone blue; toward the West, a deepening Robin’s Egg blue. My dinner was near perfect, it really was delicious and what made it perfect was the addition of the long time Frois Thanksgiving tradition of having cauliflower au gratin. It came out very well as did my version of the pumpkin pie, the eggplant dressing; the sweet potato parsnip puree was delicious but next year I will stick to the way I fixed the yams instead. But still, very good. Peas with green onions and mushrooms, yummy; the gravy for the turkey, savory redolent of garlic and rosemary. This year I made the cranberry sauce using a cup of red wine with sugar, and it was also very good.
But couldn’t shake a thread of melancholy that chose to visit me today.
After dinner got so sleepy had to have a lie down and rested as I watched the National Dog Show, a Thanksgiving tradition I adore after the Macy’s parade. During the parade, they had the “Getting to Know You” scene from a revival of “The King and I,” and I don’t know the actress’ name who plays Anna but she has one of the most beautiful soprano voices I have ever heard. I was sure the long-haired chihuahua or the bearded collie wasn’t going to take Best in Show, but it was the Skye terrier who won. I had taped “Plymouth Adventure,” a movie I always loved at this time of year and was surprised to hear Ben Manciewicz say when it was released in 1952 it was critical and box office flop. The wonderful Leo Genn played William Bradford, always remember him calling Peter Ustinov, “Divinity” in “Quo Vadis.” Oho, lambent flame…
Still, despite the melancholy, the day flew very quickly. Will have to shop for Christmas lights for the back porch since most, after four years, have burned out. I think I want to go with red, green and white this year, or maybe just red and white. I wish I could find a huge sign in lights that says, politically incorrectly, MERRY CHRISTMAS. I’d hand it from the back porch for all the cars passing on West Napoleon to see.
How was your day? Were you a little sad, too? Is that why I was?
Happy, Happy Thanksgiving. Went to 6:30 Mass this morning to give thanks, as a child my family always went to Mass on Thanksgiving morning…remember Mom so pretty and slender in a teal blue fitted sweater and skirt, cold outside.
It’s not cold this morning, warm and muggy. Turkey is roasting, cauliflower steaming, about to make the au gratin sauce, cranberries, peas with mushrooms and sweet potatoes. I will eat off of this for days.
Too full of wishes of what I’d like to be to place here. But also full of thankfulness to God for many, many things.
Didn’t go for a bike ride because I realized a) I was nearly out of petrol, and b) forgot to buy eggs and Reddi Whip for the punkin pie. It’s baking now. When I mixed the spices together, i.e., ginger, cinnamon and cloves, in with the half brown sugar half white I’m opting to use, it was a rush to smell it. Gorgeous. Added sherry to it also. Feel like making a pot of aroma punch with same spices but it’s turned warm and muggy; people are wearing shorts and I had to get out of my jeans and put my shorts on; feels like I should burn a magnolia candle instead.
Turkey breast has been stuffed with garlic and rosemary from my beautiful plant on the front porch, marinating deeply in white white wine, more rosemary and garlic overnight. Think I’m going to make a sweet potato parsnip puree; eggplant dressing. Didn’t buy breadcrumbs because I’ve kept half a loaf of stale French bread; just grated it to crumbs and will add my own Italian herbs and other seasoning to it. Got really bad and bought a slab of extra sharp Cheddar cheese and I just might stuff celery with it as we used to but I stopped A.S. (after strokes). Almost tempted to make cauliflower au gratin but that would really be pushing it. Sipping a chilled glass of Pinto Grigio because I got very hot in the kitchen. Going to chop up the eggplant before I shower and put it all together in the morning. Why is cooking so addictive to me? I love cooking even more than I love to eat what I’ve cooked. It was good to beat eggs again–I remember one Sunday afternoon when I was around twenty or 21 and Aunt Cal called from South Carolina. Mom was on the kitchen phone and I started beating eggs because I was going to make a cheese souffle and I heard Aunt Cal break off on the line and cry, “what is she cooking now?” Not in criticism. Aunt Cal hated to cook, the only good thing she made was awesome cornbread–actually, she’s the only woman I knew descended from Big Mama who wasn’t a good cook….