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throwback thanksgiving thursday

throwback thanksgiving thursday

i tend to post this every thanksgiving. oh well!

When daylight saving gives us an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday night, and the days suddenly grow so short that I wonder why it’s 9:30 p.m., look at the clock, and realize it’s still 5 p.m., I know it’s time for the holidays. I’m not one to want Christmas to come right after Halloween, and I enjoy the time it takes to move from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s. But Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be, for some reason.

When I was young, my family went to my aunt Kathleen & uncle George’s house for the day, along with their kids, my aunt Colette, and uncle Squire. My mom was “famous,” I guess you could say, for her pumpkin pie, and this is the dish we would bring to the Thanksgiving spread. Although I loved the food and the people at the time, looking back, it was really the night before Thanksgiving that was especially endearing.

For the four pies that would ultimately come from the oven, my mom would start prepping right after supper, pulling out cans of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. She mixed the ingredients in the large stainless steel pot we owned, the only thing big enough to hold all the ingredients. There was a real science to the spices, taste-testing for the right combination after each dash here, teaspoon there. Some years we had pies that tasted heavily of cloves; other years, nutmeg sparkled on our tongues.

After the filling was perfected, it was time for the crust, which was the best part for us kids, and the worst part for my mom. My siblings and I would gather around as we watched her crumble flour, salt, and Crisco between her fingers, then add water until the dough stuck together. We helped get the pie plates ready, which I never remember her buying and that she still uses, by swirling Crisco on the bottom and sides with a napkin, making circular patterns until we were told to stop.

Meanwhile, my uncle Squire always came to our house the night before Thanksgiving to make his contribution to the dinner: cranberry-orange sauce. Because he was a bachelor and didn’t have much of a need for kitchen gadgets, he didn’t own a blender, a necessary accouterment for making cranberry-orange sauce. My dad, of course, was in the kitchen as well, inputting commentary when necessary and generally making fun of my mom and uncle. So there we were in the kitchen, my mom, dad, Squire, and one, two, three, or four kids.

Our countertops were old and not the best for large-area food preparation, so my mom used a piece of laminate, which was a remnant of countertop cut for a sink (something I realized much later in life). After my dad pulled it from its cubbyhole and placed it on the kitchen, my mom prepared for the most difficult part of piemaking: rolling the dough. After cursing her dough and yelling at us to watch out while she flipped the crust from the surface to the plate, my mom let us have the leftover pieces to mash together and play with. After begging to cook our mini-pie creations, mom made us toss our dough in the trash.

But the best was yet to come: It was time to slip the pies into the oven. Baking four pies took time – two batches of prep and hour-long baking for four pies – and of course, small children had to go to sleep to prepare for the next day’s festivities. We were tucked into bed while the pies baked, the smell wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom where we would be lulled to sleep by the scent of pumpkin and spices. It was the best night’s sleep of the year.

TBT: c2 5k edition

TBT: c2 5k edition

this month marks SEVEN YEARS (!!!) since i started running. barring some injuries and vacations to high altitudes, i’ve consistently run the past seven years.

let’s do a throwback to 2011’s trip to the black hills with the fam.

five months after this pic was taken, i started running regularly at the fieldhouse at st. ben’s.

and, as my dad said, i’ll never be a sprinter! but, starting running was hard. it was probably one of the harder things i’ve done in my life, especially since it was from scratch. i’d run off and on during the summer of 1998, but it never really got into a groove with the breathing.

breathing was the worst part, followed by the ambition to keep at it, then trailed by the fact that muscles started to hurt. oh god, the breathing. it took probably 2 months for my breathing to get into a groove. and once that breathing was under control, i knew it was time for easy street.

i will say this: the muscle part was never really a barrier; in fact, i think i got off pretty easy with how little my leg muscles hurt. i could have had shin splints, and i never did. i wrapped my knees for a while, and my hips hurt for a couple weeks, but overall, muscles were good. now i’ve got calves of steel. (that’s about the only steely muscles i have, unfortunately. wish i had buns of steel but the junky trunk is real).

i don’t know how i kept going. i could have easily quit and resumed my lifestyle of slothdom. but maybe it was a challenge – sort of like how i run long distances, not because i want to win a race, but because i want to prove i can do it. the first time i ran a mile non-stop was glorious. i stretched out on the wrestling mat in the corner and was just giddy with myself.

i’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my right heel, a bad cortisone shot in that heel, three rounds of PT on it. i severely sprained it at ragnar 2017 and screwed up the tendons, and now the top of that foot’s not doing great because i’ve been trying to correct my gait. i just have to be ok with the fact that that foot will never be like the left, unfortunately.

i’ve lost 75 pounds! and my triglycerides are fantastic, despite still eating a bunch of bad food. my cholesterol levels decreased into levels that my doc said they didn’t even register on the bottom of the scale. i can attest to running as a healthy alternative to sitting on the couch.

winter means treadmill running, which sucks, but it makes summertime outdoor running that much more enjoyable. there are days when i wonder why i even put on my shoes, then there are days when i would be fine with two miles, aim for three, and actually run four (those are few and far between). i just recently ran my fastest 5k, another exhilarating moment.

i’ve run three half marathons and two ragnars. a marathon will probably never be on my plate, as my joints and muscles just don’t like running more than 8 miles. and that’s quite all right! if you’d asked me 10 years ago if i’d ever run 13 miles, i’d’ve laughed in your face.

and i’m still slow. i mean, you’d think after 7 years, i’d be a little speedier, but it’s OKAY to run slow. i want to enjoy the run and not kill myself. i think that’s 90% of why people quit running after trying it out. you don’t have to run a 10-minute mile right out of the gate. you don’t even have to run it after 7 years. my fastest 5k time? it was an 11:34-minute mile. that was FANTASTIC. i normally run a 12-12:30-minute mile.

so here’s to another 7 years of running. i didn’t think i’d still be running after 7 years, but now i’m invested. i hope my knees hold up, my foot works itself out, and my bunion chills out (good grief my feet). in the grand scheme of things, i’d rather have some bad joints than a heart attack.

here’s 2015 with my green lady!

TBT: se minn style

TBT: se minn style

on my calendar for today, i have “remember when i lived in rochester LOL”

haha i think that’s appropriate! as much as i rag on rochester as a whole, i’m glad i made that move.

it was a lot of work. between having to sell a house, buy a house, sell a house, buy a house and one rental, the housing situation wasn’t great. plus there were 6 months of commuting from st. cloud to austin on the weekends and then austin to roch every workday at the beginning, then from st. charles up to st. cloud for four months on the way back. the thing i had to keep telling myself was that this was temporary and it would be done eventually, and at the end it would be worth it.

now southeastern minnesota is a perfectly lovely place. it’s got great bluff country, and the rivers are great. winona is a fantastic little college town. rochester, despite its weird hoity toity worker vs. mayo class system, is a nice looking town (much prettier than metro st. cloud looks).

some things i liked about rochester: it had a trader joe’s. and a costco (altho we are CLOSE here in st. cloud. the building is being erected). sushi tokyo is delicious. i like that it’s in a valley, and there’s a lot of historical buildings. i like JENEE and she’s in rochester. i liked my job! it was a great school.

some things like liked about living in st. charles: i like that lanesboro was close. i liked that i could go to winona instead of rochester to get my groceries and do my shopping. i liked that right past lewiston, you drove into the bluffs down to the river. i liked that whitewater was 9 miles from my house. the running situation was pretty darn good! the good sport was yummy, and i ate way too much a&w. i peaked at kitchen owning. i will never get better than that kitchen at my house in st charles. oh, and that deck we built was pretty darn good!

but dang it i do like lakes and trees and the hills of central mn. i think it’s the way the trees crowd in the more north part of minnesota. i like driving 5 miles to st. john’s and getting on the water. i really like running in the woods. i like the yellow of autumn (well except this fall. good grief. what a bad fall we had). i like not having to drive 15 miles to get from target to a walmart to a barnes and noble (st cloud’s retail is pretty centralized; rochester’s is not).

i guess yeah, i lived in rochester for four years. i kind of wonder about it – a weird blip. but if i hadn’t taken that job, i wouldn’t be where i am today, and i wouldn’t have met jenee. and i’m pretty happy about that.

TBT: 3 years

TBT: 3 years

first, welcome to kablpomo! or as jane likes to call it: kaBLAMo.

this year we’ve got some variety throughout the week:

  • meme monday
  • review tuesday
  • word wednesday
  • throwback thursday
  • foodie friday
  • caturday
  • short story sunday

6/7 of these are the same as last year, but i wanted to throw in a short story opportunity in there so i can expand my disturbing holiday stories. so welcome to kablpomo 2018!


the first day of kablpomo lands on throwback thursday, and i hemmed and hawed about what my topic would be for today before deciding to reflect back on charlie’s accident for a little bit. not the bad stuff; hopefully all good stuff. it’s especially nice to reflect on this because we know he’s alive and kickin it best he can.

i talked to charlie today because i knew he had deleted his facebook and had the sudden thought that if he hadn’t downloaded his data beforehand, he would lose all the notes and stories that people wrote on his FB while he was in his coma (and afterward). thankfully he’d downloaded the giant file and still had all the things people said.

that’s what i like to focus on when i think about his accident, all the things people had to say about what a great dude cha is. on tuesday something triggered the feeling three years ago. it came and passed pretty quickly (sort of like how i suddenly get excited for christmas but then it goes away), but it was something i hadn’t had happen to me in a while.

but then i think about the response from people he knew – people his sisters knew – strangers who only knew charlie through others – and it’s such calming feeling.

here’s what i know: if the situation had to happen, what happened was the best possible outcome one could hope for. the best part of the week after halloween 2015 was standing in jane’s driveway getting a phone call from rae telling us that charlie woke up out of his coma and knew who they were.

and i know it’s been hard for charlie. as much as a person can be affected by an event like that, life goes on and i know for me, his accident is not something i think about on a daily basis. but for him, it’s now his life. it’s constant fatigue and medication changes that screw everything up and figuring out how to remember stuff. i try to imagine if my life were changed as profoundly as this, unexpectedly. how would i cope? how would i deal with this new reality? it’s unfathomable to me.

but he’s here and working to get better every day- and compared to the alternative? tons better!

throwback thurs: christmases

throwback thurs: christmases

this year is going to be different at christmas. last year was different at christmas. and while i do value traditions, sometimes change can be good. 
christmas for 36 years of my life was pretty predictable. at some point, you have to look at your traditions and decide they’re stagnant. i know my mom likes christmas the way she does, but it gets a little overwhelming. there’s so much food to prepare. everyone needs to be doing something. if you aren’t doing it right, prepare to be learned. even though you’ve been doing this for 37 years, somehow i’ve forgotten what it is i’m supposed to do. everything needs to be checked on. for the past few years, we’ve tried suggesting to scale back. maybe not quite so many varieties of food. maybe not so much food. maybe we each bring something, potluck style (tried that, but i was told not to bring potato soup the next year). then there is all the cleaning and dishes. ugh.
trying to keep it laid back just doens’t happen. 
last year, i stayed home. it was perfectly nice. i cooked when i wanted to. i didn’t clean when i didn’t want to. i made a fantastic buche de noel cake that i’ve been wanting to try for 20 year but can’t because OMG christmas cake. stuff happened on my terms and it was great.
15726249_10102146554629671_195428359268536551_n that’ what i like about thanksgiving. i can cook all the thanksgiving food by myself and be ok with it. i will leave the mess on the counter and not care too much. and if other people want to help, that’s fine too. 
but anyway, christmas is changing again this year. instead of buying each other presents off a list of items that we would buy for ourselves anyway, we are going to try to do a trip instead. we’ll each come up with an idea for a trip and then decide which one is the best. we’ll decide at christmas and then take the trip sometime over the next year.
sure, it’s changing. but what is life if you can’t roll with the punches every once in a while? if somehow my parents decide to scale it back and make it laid back at christmas, maybe i’ll consider making the drive to st. charles. especially if they let me bring the buche de noel. 

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