Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Week



It is Tuesday, two days before we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. We are 47 weeks into the year. These facts poised together on the page result in not a feeling of gratitude, but rather frustration. This year seems to have flown by, soon to be added to the growing collection of “years gone by.” Did I do what I could to make every day count? Did I pay attention? Did I recognize the importance of each precious day?

I don’t know. I try. Sometimes busyness, obligation, frustration and mindless activities get in the way. I feel like, once again, I’ve let another year zoom past while I stumble along, senseless to all the wonders. That thought makes me sad. One thing I know is that I can’t get the time back. If only!

I have long lists of things – some simple, some profound – that I’d like to re-do, if I could. There were dozen nights – maybe more – when the stars were ablaze in a clear sky when I got up to let the little dog outside or back in, when I yawned and turned away from the glory, to curl back up in my bed. There were conversations I cut short, with friends or family, to start a meal or to finish a chore. Many times I turned away from dogs to face the computer screen. What if that were my last chance?

There have been plenty of missed opportunities and squandered last chances in my life. I’ve learned from them all…but maybe not enough. Otherwise, why do I continue to have this conversation with myself? Will I never get it through my head? Sometimes – too often – a wasted opportunity turns out to be the LAST opportunity.

At the end of this year, before the final page is turned and we move into a new year, I’ll sit down, as I do every year, and write down “Accomplishments and Memorable Things.” Seeing them on paper, I’ll feel better about how I’ve spent my time. I may even be impressed by all that I’ve managed to do. Right now, though, 47 weeks in, it feels like NOT ENOUGH.¬†Maybe this Thanksgiving week comes at just the right time. It gives me cause to assess my year so far, when I still have five weeks to do more…and better!

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Trailer on the Water


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Back to my many addresses.

I had almost forgotten¬† about the trailer on the water. We didn’t live there for long, and not much happened there.

When fall rolled around on Beaver Island, we had to move out of the farmhouse. Though it had been occupied in the wintertime when my Dad was growing up there, it was not insulated, and was very difficult to heat. Dad used to say they’d start the winter with a woodpile “as big as the house.” It was widely believed – even by us – that in trying to keep warm, we might accidentally burn the place down. Better to find another place to spend the winter!

Our own place was not even close to being ready to move into. The slab was poured. That was all. We were still waiting for the well to be completed; we had no structure in place.

We arranged to move into McCafferty’s Hotel for the winter. There were eight units in the building. They were like little apartments, with a living room, full kitchen and a bedroom or two. There were laundry facilities on the first floor. They rented by the week in the summer, but were available as monthly rentals in the off-season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t move in until the beginning of December, after all the hunters were gone.

We moved in to the trailer for about two months, until our apartment at the hotel opened up. The driveway was a long (almost a quarter-mile long!), curved two-track that turned off the East Side drive just before Welke’s Airport, and led all the way down to the south side of the harbor. There were two trailers there, angled along the shoreline. The view of Lake Michigan was spectacular. The wind off the water, though, would hit the broad side of the building, and never even slow down until it had passed all the way through the trailer. I was cold all the time that I lived there!

We knew we wouldn’t be there long; we only brought the bare necessities and never really settled in. That’s probably why I have so few memories of that place.

I had to work a short shift on Thanksgiving that year, as the Shamrock did a festive meal for those who didn’t have family on the island. I was finished early enough, though, to cook our dinner at home. “Topper” McDonough, an old family friend, came to have dinner with us.

One night, when the sky was especially clear, we all wrapped in blankets and walked to the shoreline to look at the stars.

One cold day, after many attempts to get the furnace working, my husband asked Darrell Butler Senior to come over to fix it. Darrell asked Terry if he had thought to hit the reset button.

“Yes,” was his answer.

“How many times?”

“Just once.”

“Once? you’re sure?”

“Yes. Once.”

At that point, Darrell struck a match. A huge BOOM sounded. A pause. Darrell peeked around the corner. His dark eyebrows were charred.

ONCE, you say??

“Well…once…twice…maybe a couple dozen times…I don’t remember.”

Those are my only memories of my short time at the trailer on the water.


Potato Peels and Other Scraps


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I was planning to make mushroom risotto for my dinner this evening. I have plenty of rice, onions, and a few fresh mushrooms that need to be used before they go soft. I was going to pick up chicken broth and a lemon at the grocery store after work, and would have everything I’d need.

While mailing out Christmas packages this morning, I wrote out a check to cover postage, and realized it was the last check in the book. I had tucked a twenty dollar bill in a birthday card yesterday. In cash, I was left with three dollars and change. Not enough.

Instead, it’s fried potatoes with onions for my dinner this evening.

That’s okay. It’s one of my favorite meals. I fry the potatoes until they’re brown on the outside, but still firm, not quite cooked through on the inside. I like the onions very done, caramelized almost, but the potatoes al dente’. Then, sometimes, I melt cheese on top.

As I was slicing onions, I was struck with a memory of cutting onions horizontally and separating them into neat rounds for fried potatoes. I don’t do it that way anymore. Now I slice them vertically, into long, curved strips. I don’t know when that changed. Or why.

I used to slice the potatoes into rounds, too. Now I cut them in half before slicing them, so I have half-moon shapes. I might have changed my onion slicing at the same time as I changed my potato cutting, so that they’d look similar…but I’m only guessing.

I remembered, as I was peeling potatoes, that the funny tip at the end of a carrot peeler (I suppose it could be a potato peeler, too) is a tool for removing the eyes of a potato (also for the spots on a whole pineapple, but that has nothing to do with this discussion). I used to know that, and then I forgot.

I didn’t remember it at Thanksgiving, when my sister and I were peeling potatoes together. The potatoes were just filled with eyes, and I was passing them to Brenda, to cut out the spots. I lose patience with a job like that, and was sure I’d end up just cutting away chunks of the potato. My mother would have found that unacceptable, and I was afraid that Brenda would feel the same way. I took care of it by just handing the job off to her. I was secretly pleased to see that she was kind of cutting away chunks, too. That would have been a darn good time to remember about the carrot peeler…but, no.

It strikes me that if these two revelations come to me in one day, for no particular reason, how many other things have I forgotten?