groak (v.) to watch someone who is eating or to stare longingly at someone else’s food in the hope of being offered a portion of their scrumptious bounty, or better yet, being asked to join them.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was yesterday because today I get to work the actual stat holiday and make regular pay plus stat pay and perhaps die from boredom in the process. These holidays are never busy for us at work, unless you count being a glorified repair service for broken arms on glasses, or emergency suppliers of the odd contact lens.
Yesterday, in the middle of preparing dinner, I knocked almost a full glass of my smoothie on to the floor where it splattered for miles into as yet undiscovered places. What a mess. It also got all over me, so I cleaned it up and changed my clothes. Then when I took the splattered clothes down to the laundry I got more smoothie on myself and my second outfit. Change of clothes number three. Later when I tried to shove a bowl of vegetable cooking water (for making gravy) out of the way on my counter I forgot that the bowl has a rubber non slip thing on the bottom of it, so it tipped over and a tidal wave of hot water soaked my work surface. Yay. Another unexpected clean up. And THEN, while clearing the table after dinner I knocked over my finish-the-last-of-the-bottle-because-it’s-too-little-to-put-away glass of WINE!
At which point I remarked – thank gawd that’s the third spill of the day and thus the last. Because bad things always happen in threes. And there had been two sets of them in one day all ready. Also, there was more wine to open if I really needed more, which I didn’t, obviously, if I was at the glass knocking-over stage of the day for me.
We ate too much and packed the fridge full of whatever left overs we couldn’t force our daughter to take home with her, and went to bed, thus avoiding whatever third set of three bad things the universe had in store for me.
Perhaps I’ll find out today. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating it today. Hope you don’t get indigestion or break your glasses. Or spill your wine.
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye
This is such a simple picture, and yet it brings back a flood of memories for me, even though it was taken on a day when I’m sure I wasn’t even there. My dad was the only one in his family who made his living by farming. His siblings were teachers and nurses and professionals, and ended up living in towns and cities. And all of them – every one – came to visit him and mom here with their families. If they hadn’t, we would never have known all our aunts and uncles and cousins so well, because running a farm means almost never getting away for trips much longer than a day. But if the relatives wanted to come and stay? They were welcomed with open arms. We had lots of room and the doors were always open. No offer of help was every refused. You might end up peeling the potatoes or shelling the peas for your dinner, but you never went away hungry.
The garage is on the far left, then dad, mom, the window to the den, Aunt Lorna, the main door, Aunt Marie, the edge of the big kitchen window, extra lawn chairs, a strange looking wooden whirly decoration that twisted in the breeze, flower beds gone wild. That little thing hanging on the bricks that resembles a bird house is a box that held a pencil and some notepaper. On it was written “If at home you do not find us, leave a note that will remind us.” I once pointed out to my mother that it didn’t make any sense. If you were away from home, surely you knew that already and didn’t need a reminder of it. I was just being a mouthy teenager. But I still think the message is stupid. And I don’t know why I’ve never forgotten it.
The view to the west was of maple trees bordering the laneway, the bank down to the pond, and fences and fields as far as you could see. Those numerous round white dots that look like holes are actually real holes in the photograph. It’s been pinned up to a cork board and shuffled around a lot, stuffed in a box, lost for awhile. And then it made its way to me. In this shot it looks like the veranda floor has had some repairs and a new coat of paint. I remember it being a steely blue grey with loose boards you could lift up and hide things under. I don’t remember dad ever saying he was tired of nailing them back down.
It’s a summer afternoon, dinner is over, the dishes have been washed and put away, and it’s just too nice to sit inside. If there are kids around, they’re off climbing trees or throwing sticks for the dog, or gathering firewood for the bonfire in the backyard after the sun goes down. I can almost hear dads voice, saying something profound in a lazy off-hand manner. Mom saying “Oh, Hank”, and laughing, Aunt Lorna’s droll observations (we never knew if she meant to be funny or not) and Aunt Marie’s infectious giggles.
The farm was sold years ago. We drove by it last October and saw the changes. The front veranda has been closed in, the barn is being torn down, the gigantic garden has gone to grass. The house is so old I’m surprised it’s still standing. It’s just another old building to me now. It hasn’t been ”home” for a very long time.
And yet in my heart it will always be home whenever I remember all the people who were part of it, and who made it come so alive with laughter and fun. I’ve had a lot of homes in my life and I carry parts of every one of them with me. The pictures in my head are as vivid as the real ones. I can visit them anytime I choose, simply by remembering the people I loved who lived there with me, and loved me back.
Finding a few favourite pictures taken in moms kitchen has turned into a treasure chest of memories. We spent a lot of time there whenever we went to visit the farm. It’s a place we didn’t appreciate enough when we were growing up, and then a place we could hardly wait to return to after we moved away. It was where our family (which grew) sat down to eat the best meals ever. It was all about us, until it became all about our kids.
I love the look on my brothers face – he was a man who loved his sons. I don’t think it was ever a difficult thing for them to love him back.
The back-splash of orange flowers I remember vividly. Because it was vivid. That space between the top of the cupboards and the ceiling was always covered in a hodge podge display of things that weren’t useful but were just too nice to throw away. Gifts from well-meaning people and antiques belonging to grandma. There were ceramic roosters on the other side. I don’t need a picture to remember those. Sometimes on a visit we’d climb up there for mom and wash and dust everything and check out the names on the bottom of things. Grandma was great for writing the names of her relatives on adhesive or masking tape and sticking them on things she thought they might like to have after she was gone. It’s a great system – certainly easier than writing it all down on paper. Mom carried on that tradition. My own cupboards go right up to the ceiling with no space on which to put things. There are some traditions that aren’t that hard to give up.
I can tell it’s Christmas because of the plastic holly and the tree shaped candle. But every meal at moms was like a Christmas feast. Small people were supposed to sit on the bench on the far side of the table, but obviously on this day we got a little mixed up. Funny, no matter how many people showed up to eat, there was always room at the table, and left overs for later. It was a magical place.