This is another one about my grandmother. Today I’m thankful for tofurkey.
We had a family do recently. I asked my grandmother if she’d be willing to make a few vegetarian things. I offered to bring a couple if was easier for her. (I have to eat carefully because of an autoimmune issue. I don’t do it to be difficult, and I really try to be flexible-eggs, dairy and honey.) My people are “meat and taters” folks from way back so I stand out a bit. She said she’d do just fine.
Wouldn’t you know it, but everything (except the giant ham) was vegan. My grandmother outdid herself and I was gobsmacked. There were six of us, including me, and she’d bought a ham that weighed about 5 kilos (roughly 11 pounds). It was bigger than my head. She kept teasing my grandfather that it wasn’t properly carved but he pointed out that he was satisfied getting it to the table in one piece. They found a tofu loaf for me. It was pretty tasty. I felt very loved.
Today I’m thankful for maps and cartography.
I’m a map lover since childhood. My late grandfather used to watch me before I started primary school. He taught me numbers and letters. My favorite times were when he would bring out his old atlas and Bible and show me where the named places actually were. I’m irreligious, so that aspect clearly didn’t last, but I’ve been enamored of ancient geography for as long as I remember. It’s because of him that I know the location of “Ur of the Chaldeans” (the stated home of Abraham) and I know how to say “Chaldean” (Kal-dee-uhn, for what it’s worth).
I studied geography at a post-graduate level. Doing so enabled me to delve into the movements of people through history, examining how culture and language evolve through migration. I also learned skills enabling me to pay my bills so it wasn’t all vanity study. Maps can be incredibly beautiful, and place is a fundamental concept. I still have his atlas, in case you wondered.
By Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (Text: Hartmann Schedel) (Own work (scan from original book)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This might run a little long though I hope you still enjoy it. Today I’m thankful for my mother’s unflappability.
We visited Reykjavik in 2014. Our return flight left Keflavik in the afternoon so we landed late in the evening. We both had an additional flight. We scheduled a layover long enough that we could get a hotel room and full night’s sleep.
I wanted to find an acceptable hotel offering a free shuttle to the airport the next morning. Most hotels have shuttles but they can cost as much as a nice dinner. I eventually found a place with fair reviews, advertising a free shuttle.
A cheerful driver picked us up at the airport. The hotel concierge greeted us as we walked in, from behind a substantial pane of glass. We were shown to a very clean room, complete with concrete floor and sturdy deadbolt. We ordered pizza (actually quite tasty), blocked the door with a chair and had a quiet night. Our drive to the airport and return flights were uneventful.
It wasn’t until I finally got home and scoured the hotel website that I noticed the discreet mention of “hourly rates.” I had booked my mother and me into what was essentially a love hotel. I was mortified. My mother thought the entire experience was exceedingly funny, and did it all with a broken fibula. I have to say that everyone at the hotel treated us very kindly, as we were clearly out of place.
Today I’m thankful for foxes.
I grew up in a city of about 250,000. It’s mid-sized, as far as such things go. Robins and jays were the biggest creatures I saw regularly. My grandparents had a farm about an hour away. We saw deer and hawks, and the occasional goldfinch, but not much of any size.
I left home for university. I moved to a smaller city for work after graduating, with a population of about 60,000 people. It was here that I saw my first wild fox. I was going to work on a fall morning and saw a fox climb out of a sewer grate and simply trot along the street. I didn’t see any kits. It was late enough in the season that the sun wasn’t fully up. I looked again, to verify what I was actually seeing. I told my colleagues about the encounter. Apparently it is a somewhat common occurrence here.
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Today I’m grateful for the boundless energy of little kids, and hope to claim some for my own use.
Small Human’s birthday party was today. They turned three last week. I was at the house with 7 of my family members, 5 members of a friend’s family, 7 other three year olds, AND their mothers. Three is a generally fun age, and all of the small ones were genuinely well behaved but it was still a lot of action, everywhere, all the time. I think “sensory overload” is an applicable term. I spent a lot of it discussing dinosaurs with a 5 year old who wants to be a paleontologist. He could do well.
My extended family left after the party. I ate with those who remained afterward. Small Human was in a funny mood and was highly entertaining through the meal. We had an enjoyable time. I’m worn out – chasing little people is hard work!
Today I’m thankful that I can sometimes (rarely!) get gooey over things.
Small Human turned three last week. Thing Two will come along around February. Both belong to my sister. I don’t have children. I have no parental instincts whatsoever. And yet, I love Small Human more than I ever thought I’d love anything. I’m actually excited for Thing Two’s arrival. I’m a cynic, but damned if I don’t get sentimental around them. It’ll probably ruin my reputation as a grump.
Today I’m thankful for my grandmother’s apparent ESP.
I know I’ve posted several times about my grandmother. The truth is she’s an evergreen font of inspiration. I’ve worried a bit that she seems a little fantastic, but every thing I’ve written about her is entirely true. Some people you just can’t make up.
She gave me a certain toy when I turned 10. I was a little old to receive it but she’d spent many hours building and finishing it. I played with it for a year or two and then outgrew it. It stayed in my room after because it probably qualifies as an heirloom, not something to get rid of blithely. She agreed to store it for me while I was at university. I thought I’d managed to outrun it. I was wrong. When I moved out she and my grandfather visited, bringing it with them as a “favor.”
Later, I was redecorating. The thing is not small. It is probably about the size of a stool. I couldn’t find a place where it’d be out of the way. My mother suggested it was finally safe to get rid of it. I looked at her, and referring to my grandmother, said “she’d know.” My mother protested, saying Gran would only know if someone told her and none of my family would. My sister immediately entered the argument on my side. Neither of us is entirely sure how, but our grandmother just knows, and never lets the thing go. My mother dropped the subject, seeing that her children believe their grandmother has extrasensory perception. It’s because when things concern her, she does.
Today I’m thankful for concerned relatives.
Today was another visit with the older gal I help. She had me clean both bathrooms and dust the second bedroom. She’d fallen a little behind because of numerous doctor visits. She didn’t particularly mind the appointments. She planned ahead, anticipating a long interval at the offices. However, she didn’t foresee spending an even longer time on the telephone repeating the story to each of her children, grandchildren and all of their spouses. She said “as soon as I got off the phone with one here comes another calling; a body needs a break to think!”. I suggested she designate one person to keep the rest updated. She has a large family.
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Today I’m thankful for my grandmother.
I’m not wholly sure how to describe her. She is gracious, wickedly funny and occasionally terrifying. The woman is a gourmet cook and born hostess who could put Martha Stewart or Mary Berry to shame. She sings like a big band girl singer. She has a habit of mentioning recent local deaths whenever we visit and seems to relish the especially grisly ones.
This tendency was happily displayed the last time my sister visited. I only heard about this after the fact from my father – I was not there. I laughed so hard I went hoarse. Gran told my sister (my father was there as well) about a man in town who had killed his parents. With an axe. A month previously. She’d sat on the information all that time, saving it to tell my sister in person. My sister lives a four hour drive away so it can be a while between visits. I don’t if Gran was in on the joke, thinking “they always say I talk about people dying so I’ll show them” or if she genuinely thought my sister would find the information interesting. She is absolutely canny enough to be in on it but would never admit such a thing. I adore this woman.
Today I’m thankful for motorcycles.
I’ve been around bikes since I was 8. My granddad had an old rangy cruiser and he would sometimes take me for short, slow rides around the property. My father eventually bought it from Granddad. Later he traded it in for a bigger, louder cruiser with cushier seats and a larger engine. Being on the back of a motorbike is a singular experience. Risking sounding trite, it is you, and the wind, and the engine, and nothing else.
I learned to ride a few years ago. I don’t currently have a bike. Not having a garage limits my options. I’ve wanted a Triumph for a long time. A friend had one and the old beast was tough enough that he’d just whack it with a wrench to fix it.
Image from TopSpeed Motorcycles – all rights belong to them