Top 10 Gratitude List for Today

  1. I have light in this room. Some of my rooms do not have enough light to see things clearly. This one does, right now.
  2. I have extra refills for my favorite pen. I stocked up on them, years ago, when I had extra money to spend on ballpoint pen refills. So, I didn’t have to go buy more when I ran out yesterday. My favorite pen is one of the simple pleasures of my life. And it’s a good, basic pen that just works.
  3. I did not have to go shopping yesterday.  Black Friday came and went without me needing to go to the store. That has not always been the case. Last year, I had to wade into K-Mart for cold and flu supplies. It sucked.
  4. It’s Saturday. Nuff said.
  5. The transfer station is open today, so can take out the trash that’s in the garage.
  6. I am quite relaxed right now. I have a lot to do, and I’m behind on some things, but it’s not bothering me. It will get done.
  7. I have found some really good reading online. It’s not vacuous and self-obsessed and pointless like much that I find. It’s good reading about things that matter to everyone. It gets me thinking, which is good.
  8. I have a fake Christmas tree. It looks very natural, and it’s easy to put up, and it keeps me from having to spend money and wade into crowds during this crazy time of year. Later today, I’ll be putting it up.
  9. I have a friend who does massage. Tomorrow I get a “trade” from them that will hopefully get my neck and shoulders unfrozen from the continuously painful state they’ve been in for weeks, now.
  10. I have leftover turkey to eat. And the carcass is being turned into soup, so that should feed us for a few more days.

Life is good. Onward.

Gratitude List for the day after Thanksgiving

Good times…

Thanksgiving was an amazing time — a real joy and a success in so many little ways. Here’s my Top 10 gratitude list for what the day had to offer yesterday:

  1. I woke up in time to get the turkey completely thawed before I put it in the oven. This was not a given, because I have a tendency to oversleep when I have to get up at a certain time. The turkey was still a little icy, the night before, and I knew I was going to need at least three hours to thaw it in a cold water bath before I could stuff it and put it in the oven. (Yes, for the record, I walk on the wild side and stuff my turkeys whenever I make them – it just tastes better, and I allow for extra time to roast.) But I actually woke up 30 minutes before I had to get up, which allowed me time to get going and get my head on straight before launching into the cooking. And by the time the stuffing was ready, the bird was too.
  2. I managed to time everything out, almost exactly right. This was another thing that was not-a-given. Last year at Christmas time, I screwed up roasting a turkey and ended up needing an extra four hours to cook it. Yesterday, I had no such leeway; I had to have everything timed out exactly right, because we had to get on the road by a certain time. And I managed. I checked the clock frequently, and unlike other times, I didn’t just assume things would get done quickly — like prepping the stuffing and the veggies that went around the bird. I took extra time, which as it turned out, was what I needed from the start.
  3. The friend who said they might come to dinner with us, did show up. This individual was recently diagnosed with cancer, and they are going through radiation and a variety of treatments, and they’ll be having surgery a few days before Christmas. It actually felt good to be able to just hang out with this friend, help them get their mind off their troubles, and just enjoy — with good food, good company, and a relaxing evening when they didn’t need to do anything.
  4. Another friend who was going to be alone on Thanksgiving didn’t show up. That friend has been a real pain in the ass, over the past year, and while we do enjoy their company at times, they’re pretty erratic, so you never know how they’re going to be. They didn’t show, so there was no need to deal with their volatility.
  5. We had Thanksgiving dinner “off the grid”. Well, technically it wasn’t completely off the grid, because there was electricity. But there was no cell phone signal, and we had to drive back into the woods to get to the cabin where we had dinner. It was really relaxing to not have Facebook and email and phones going all night long. What a change.
  6. The drive out was beautiful. The weather was clear, it wasn’t doing anything obnoxious, and the countryside was lovely in that almost-winter way.
  7. We took our time. We spent a fair amount of time prepping food when we got there, and then we took our time serving everything up and going around the table sharing what we were thankful for. We didn’t stress over food getting cold — our hearts were warm, and that’s what mattered. We really lingered over the food, too, pacing ourselves. And I have to say, that was the best Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever had, because I didn’t feel over-full and wiped out afterwards. I ate a lot, but I didn’t have that sick feeling I often get afterwards.
  8. We ate like royalty.  Seriously. We had a lot of food, and it was good.  We all felt like kings and queens in the process — just so much really good food, without a lot of junk. Everybody in the group was on some sort of restricted diet, so all our food was not only squeaky clean and free of a ton of additives and other modern poisons, but also extremely good for us and tasty too.
  9. We just hung out afterwards. We went for a walk out under the stars in the evening, and it was just amazing. We hung out talking about this and that. We watched little videotape snippets from “past lives”, we played music and sang, and we lay around the living room, playing with the dog and just chillin’. There was none of the rush and pressure to be a certain way or do certain things or meet anyone’s needs. We were just there to enjoy each others’ company and share a good meal.
  10. We got home at an okay hour, and got everything put away. This is another thing that’s not a given for my spouse and me. Often, when we’ve been out late, we’ll just leave things till the morning. But for some reason last night, we were both motivated to take care of things and put up the dirty dishes, tuck the leftovers into decent containers (instead of just throwing it in the fridge), and get things squared away before going to bed. This made things a lot easier to wake up to, this morning. And for that, I am very grateful.

All in all, it was a banner day. I’ll write more later, because a number of really important things happened. But for now, let the record show that yesterday was one of the best Thanksgivings, ever.

Eventually figuring it out…

This was the plan… more or less

Okay, so the last time I wrote, the turkey was in the oven, and I was on track to an amazing Christmas dinner.

Then life happened. I’m not sure whether it was the ever-present concussion / TBI / post-concussion / sensory overwhelm / attentional issues mix that always seems to lurk beneath the surface, or if it was dumb luck. The thing is, this kind of thing happens to me all the time, so either it’s just apart of my life, built in to be annoying, or it’s a sign that — even after all this time — I still need to make an extra effort to ensure things turn out well. And it’s another reminder that I can’t get cocky and just assume things.

Anyway, what happened was… I finished writing my Christmas Day post, checked Facebook a bit, then went downstairs to check the turkey. I felt the glass on the front of the oven, and it didn’t feel warm. “That’s weird…” Then I opened the oven door, expecting to be blasted by a shot of hot air.

No such thing. The oven was faintly warm, but around the bird were pools of melted ice and blood, and there was no roasting to be seen.

Well shit.

I must have accidentally turned off the oven when I was resetting the timer after I got the giblets and neck out of the bird. There are a number of lights on the front console that are the same color and size, so I must have mistaken the timer light for the oven light.

So, there I stood in the kitchen, my (sick) spouse upstairs expecting a delicious, hot (and completely roasted) turkey in just a few hours. And I had probably lost a couple of hours of roasting time, if I turned off the oven when I got the giblets and neck out. What to do? My spouse is a pretty anxious individual, to begin with, and when something this important gets screwed up, they can go off the deep end. I wasn’t really liking the chatter going on inside my head, either, about what an idiot loser I am, and how I never should have thought I could do this thing today, when I was so sick and feeling off and tired and out of it.

Think… think… First thing I did, was turn the oven back on. The thought occurred to me that there were major bacteria growing inside that bird, and to proceed would have meant certain death. Then again, I figured the bird was still so frozen when I put it in the oven, it had probably kept pretty well. And anyway, roasting it another 4-1/2 hours would likely kill anything that might be growing. I thought about what people have done for eons — eating food that wasn’t prepared exactly to Betty Crocker spec… and they’ve survived. The human race has been eating crap we should never eat, for generations up on generations, and we are still here.

So, eventually I managed to talk myself into proceeding with the turkey roasting… as though nothing had happened.

But how to explain it to my spouse? The last thing I wanted to do was spend Christmas Day being barked at and harangued over my lax cooking skills, ordering out, and then never living that down. I would probably hear about that till the end of time, if I let on about what had happened. I decided, eventually, to use the frozen bird as the excuse for the extra time — it needed more time to thaw and cook… that’s what my story was going to be. My spouse was incredibly leery of putting an un-thawed bird in the oven, anyway, so they had been pressing me to cook it longer… and longer would better. Right?

That was my hope (and prayer) anyway. I wasn’t exactly sure what precisely to think, in any case, because maybe the danger from a weirdly cooked turkey was Real And Present… maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t have the time — or presence of mind — to Google it. I just winged it. Took a best guess, weighed the pros and cons, and figured if the turkey was really bad, my spouse would be able to smell it, because their sense of smell is, well, existent — and very acute at that. Where mine is, well, a lot less than that.

Yeah, I left the turkey in the oven… kept the heat where it was supposed to be, and said a prayer.

Around the time that I got the turkey squared away (for the second time), it was the hour to rise and exchange presents. We don’t have any kids, so we tend to sleep in on Christmas Day and don’t worry about being the first downstairs to open presents. And we were both pretty under the weather, so a slow start got even slower. It was a really nice time, I have to say – we didn’t get a lot of presents for each other, but we got enough nice little things that we could honestly say the gift exchange was a success (unlike in past years, when I totally spaced on the present-buying until the last minute, then couldn’t find what I was looking for, and ended up screwing up pretty badly – arguing and accusations of “You don’t love me!” with tears included – not good).

Dodged that bullet this year, thank heavens.

So, after the presents were opened, I made us a little brunch, and I looked in on the turkey. It was getting there… but I still wasn’t sure. Another hour went by, and my spouse was remarking at how the smell of the cooking turkey wasn’t “filling the house like it usually does” which set off alarms and put them on alert. Another hour went by, and still the turkey didn’t have that pervasive, delicious aroma it “usually does”… so my spouse started to get really nervous about how “You never roast a frozen turkey,” according to their mother, and how this was dangerous and we might get sick…

I got busy making stuffing and popping veggies in the oven to roast. I figured, if worse came to worst, we could at least fill up on roasted yams, potatoes, and carrots, along with those fresh green beans. And of course there was always pie… Meanwhile, my spouse Googled “cook a frozen turkey” and got very quiet while they read all about it.

Nerves… frayed nerves. But I kept on with my work. I called my mother, too, to check on whether or not things were going to be okay. She reassured me that as long as I left it in longer, it would be okay. I took her word for it, and my spouse emerged from in front of the computer looking much more relaxed. They declared “Everything should be fine,” and we were back on again.

In the end, the turkey turned out amazing. I carved a side to check it, it looked a little pink, so I popped it back in the over at a higher temp for another 20 minutes, and by the time all the stuffing and roasted vegetables and green beans were ready, the turkey was ready too.

We ended up having Christmas supper, instead of mid-day dinner, but I have to say it was pretty phenomenal.

All was well, and the day ended well. Yeah, I felt like crap the whole day, I was out of it and foggy and anxious and frustrated and disappointed and nervous as hell, but that was just the backstory. The real story of the day was that it all came out extremely well – just at a different pace and with a different timing than originally planned. I think that was actually for the best, however. Who eats Christmas turkey as their very first meal of the day?

So, there it is… lesson learned — always check that all 3-4 lights are on the stove, when the oven is on: light for the timer, light for the oven, light for the “stove on”, and possibly the light for “preheat”. Especially when I have the timer going. Because when the timer is on, I can’t see the temperature. Bad design, if you ask me. But I’ll just have to remember to work around it.

Now, two days later, I still don’t feel that hot. I’ve been working a lot, these past few days — cleaning out my garage and working around the house. I’ve been using muscles I haven’t used in months, and I’m sore as hell… and feeling a bit off. I will make a point of taking care of myself today — get the extra sleep I’ve been meaning to get… empty the trash cans full of used tissues… do some laundry… and do a few minor projects I’ve been wanting to do. I have an idea for a snow-moving contraption that will save me a lot of work shoveling, if I can figure it out. That’s my big project for today – that, and rearranging my basement a bit, so I can get to all my tools. I have a ton of great tools in the basement, as well as a great workbench, but I have not made the most of it, especially since my accident in 2004, which really plunged me into concussion / TBI hell.

You know, it’s funny… being sick and not being able to travel this holiday season has been a real bonus in a bunch of different ways. I’m not constantly “on”. I’m not pushing to get stuff done. I’m not hustling and bustling and hauling ass, left and right. I’m taking my time doing things, and I’m figuring things out. And the crazy thing is, even though I tend to think that I function so much better when I’m “on”, I have felt better, these past several days, than I have in years. Even with the cold / sinus infection that’s got me feeling like crap, I’ve still had more energy and more will  to do the things I’ve been meaning to do for years, but could never get my act together to do.

Pretty amazing, really. I’ve been wanting to clean out my garage for years, but couldn’t manage it till this week. Okay, so I’m only half done, and there’s still a lot of work to do, but at least I made a really excellent start. I’ve been wanting to design and invent some things for quite some time, but could never get it together to do it, till this week. And that’s pretty awesome. It’s all good. It really is.

What matters most is that eventually, it is all coming together. It’s taken me years, and I don’t expect everything to be completely sorted anytime soon, but it’s a start. I have to remember how far I have come, and not get down on myself because I am not as far along as I want to be. I will screw up, now and then. I will overlook things. I will come up short of my own expectations. I will probably mis-judge many situations over and over. But I can’t let that stop me from moving forward.

I am moving forward. What’s more, I’m actually enjoying my life. And that’s what truly matters.

Onward….