One Down, One to Go

Ah, Thanksgiving is finally here. Unlike the masses that shop in the store I work at, I’m thankful the holiday is here, rather than it’s still in the offing, so we can get past it and on to the last holiday of the year, and be done with 2020, as well as the ‘silly season’.

I suppose in a way it’s a symptom of getting older.  The more years I put on, the less I’m up for all the pomp and circumstances of the holidays, and more interested in getting them over and done with and behind me.  Christmas I suppose is pretty much the only holiday that I’m ok with tolerating, because it has elements that to me are enjoyable still and I can revel in, to some extent.  The music, some of the pagentry, the decorations (as long as they don’t get too ostentatious) and the memories things invoke, are more tolerable to me than the trappings of Thanksgiving.  To me, Thanksgiving reminds me of the year my mother died, and how that situation invariably ruined the holiday for me.

Too, the whole bastardization of the holiday is sort of off-putting, given how it was created in the first place.  Commercialization does have a way of making things less palatable, or perhaps dumbed down for the people that wish to have it simple, rather than understanding how it all began.  Thanksgiving was a holiday to allow people in the 19th century to be appreciative of what they had, to hearken back to a time when things were perhaps more dire and remember that there had been much progress in the 200 years since the pre-beginning of the US.  

Abraham Lincoln was the President that cemented the last Thursday of November as the ‘official’ Thanksgiving, in a time when there was a Civil War (hardly civil in many respects) raging in the southern part of the divided country.   There had been other days of ‘Thanksgiving’ or of memorializing the concept of being thankful for what the country had, or the citizenry of same possessed, or ‘had’ at that time.  With the unrest and armies mowing down each other en masse, it was necessary to refocus, or redirect the citizens into something peaceful, something to take away the horrors of the war that was tearing the country asunder.

Today, it’s all about retail.  Buying the right turkey at a reduced price, having to purchase the trappings to go along with it (gotta have that dressing, cranberry and pumpkin pie, right?) or if you’re less traditional, getting a ham or rib roast, and all the other sundries that go along with those menu choices.  Even this year, with people not traveling as much due to the pandemic, having to stay home unexpectedly, dragging out cookware that hasn’t been used in years, since they traditionally haven’t been home for the holiday.  I saw a lot of that this year, along with people asking about how to cook things that they like, but have no idea how to actually prepare it themselves. (I had a gentleman who stated he loved prime rib roast, he has it often, but when I got him the size he wanted for him and his wife, just before I turned away, he stopped me and asked how to cook it.  Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time this has happened, so I gave him a basic recipe that I’d seen on Foodwishes.com along with a handout that we have in the department for people that need a little assistance with cooking roasts and so on.)  Apparently not everyone either has an Internet connection or knows how to navigate it to find more than silly cat videos.

My wife and I, we’re celebrating subdued.  I have the day off from work (thank you!) so I don’t have to deal with the brouhaha there on the holiday.  Granted I’ll be working tomorrow for the aftermath, where we’ll be marking down the turkeys that we still have (the fresh ones, the frozen, or partially thawed ones go back in the freezer) and making the department look presentable after having been run from one end to the other for the past two days.  We’re getting a few holiday dinners from a place near us that does catering, the woman has been trying to make her business work with the pandemic, and people not needing catering for events that they cannot host due to restrictions on people gathering together.  You really have to feel for people who had planned for beginning businesses like that, and support them however possible.  So instead of cooking something ourselves, we’re picking up the dinners at 1 this afternoon, storing them in the fridge and having our holiday dinner this evening.  I’m roasting a butternut squash to go with the traditional meal we’re getting, just an addition that my wife and I both like.  Dessert is included, so we don’t have to worry about creating a huge mess in our galley kitchen.  No muss, no fuss and we can have a relaxed evening after.  

So, one holiday down, one to go.  If you made it this far, sorry (not sorry) for the rant.  I hope you and yours have a great holiday.  Enjoy the time you can spend together, if you can use Zoom, Skype or FaceTime (or Google Duo) to connect with your far flung off family, take time to do so.  Which reminds me, I need to FaceTime with my Mom. 

Happy Thanksgiving, 2020.

Adventures in Vehicle Shopping

Our lease is coming due next month, and we have to start getting serious about what ‘comes next’. To that end, Friday on my day off, we did a little vehicle shopping at a dealership about 40 miles from us. Just so happens to be in vicinity of both a strip mall that we shop at, as well as a standard sized mall across the Interstate, which is catty-corner to both Red Lobster and Olive Garden, places we like to get a meal.

Based on our past needs and preferences, I’d made a list of what vehicles appealed to me that we could look at. We’re generally in the market for what’s called a mid-size or ‘crossover’ style of SUV, since that’s the successor to what used to be called the ‘station-wagon’. Too, we don’t normally go for something that’s basic, we like to have the ‘bells and whistles’ that are available, with the probably exception of a tow package, light machine guns or rocket launchers, as they tend to be a little too bulky for our specific needs.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re going to be leasing, and we’ve had Subaru’s before, so the first dealership we went to sold them. Driving around the lot, we noticed a gaggle of ‘vultures’ (my wife’s term for the salespeople) hanging around one of the entrances to the main building, so we avoided them until we needed one. Driving around, oddly enough, I didn’t see too many Subies. They seemed to have a lot of other brands, but not them. So we parked at the Cadillac side of the dealership (multiple brands) and walked over to where I did happen to see a few Foresters. But they were all used, or ’16s, ’18s and earlier. Finally giving up, we acted lost and one of the vultures detached from the gaggle and came to see if he could help us.

‘Bill’ introduced himself and asked what we were looking for. I introduced myself and my wife and told him that we were in the market for perhaps an Ascent (the new Subaru model out this year) or a Forester. He informed me that I was looking in the used section, that the newer vehicles were in another rank. We began with small talk as we walked over, and he showed me what the Ascent looked like. Oy, big damn vehicle! Almost taller than me, which proved to be too much vehicle as soon as I looked inside. Anything that has three rows of seats or appears to be suitable for toting a small pachyderm around comfortably, is going to be too much hassle for just the two of us. Next!

Mr. Bill asked if we might be interested in an Outback, as he had lots of those. I informed him that back in 2010 we looked at one, but for me it was too cramped in the cabin. Just for the hell of it I sat in a 2019 model and…same result. It’s a nice vehicle, but for someone with my large frame, it feels too cramped. So it’s either going to be a Forester, or something else from another manufacturer in the same size range. Bill informed us that Foresters are a limited commodity this season, as they’ve been heavily advertised and people are snapping them up, much like what happened when the Prius originally came out. There used to be a waiting list of several months for them, but that died down over a year or so as the supply train caught up with the demand. So getting a Forester might be a lost cause, since most of the ones he has on site, or coming in over the next month are already spoken for.

We looked at a few more possibles and then went on our way to the Nissan dealership on the other side of the Interstate, near the mall. This time we didn’t engage with any of the vultures, we just looked at vehicles from the outside. I liked the look of the Pathfinder, I think that’s going to bear more investigation. On my list of ‘possibles’ was a Rogue, but I think that’s going to be a wee bit too small for our needs. Not Outback small, but the size of the vehicle was a little too squashed, I think would be the better way of putting it. A co-worker has a Rogue, and he raves about it, but I don’t think it’s going to fit our requirements.

The dealerships we went to didn’t have several of the other vehicle brands I’d made a list of, so we shelved the shopping trip in view of both of us being hungry. A trip to Red Lobster assuaged that, and after being filled up on seafood we headed home. We have some more research to do online before we make any decisions, and on Sunday we’re going to a dealership near us, that has Chevy vehicles as I want to look and measure an Equinox and Traverse, to see how they measure up to what we currently have. We still have time for narrowing down our possibles, so by the middle of next month we’ll be better assured of what we eventually are going to be driving for the next 3 years.

Embracing new experiences

I’ve often been described as a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to new experiences in food.  I’ve been known to eat the same thing for lunch for many days in a row without getting tired of it.  When my wife and I go out to eat, pretty much she can predict where I’ll want to go, and what I’ll order when we get there.  Red Lobster; I used to always get chicken.  I’d say for the last 12 years or so, I get the ‘create your own feast’ option with the same entrees.  Sometimes I’ll get three, sometimes two, depending on how much I want to take home.  Olive Garden, I like the ‘Tour of Italy’ option, where you can get three samples of items, and if it’s too much (I love their Toscana soup and breadsticks) I can always take the leftovers home.  It tickles me sometimes as it reminds me of the scene in ‘Defending Your Life‘ where Rip Torn’s character mentions that the people at the restaurants love to send stuff home.  And there’s always vast quantities of food going home with them.

One thing that I definitely don’t do often is want to go to new restaurants.  That sort of thing can be my Kryptonite, especially when it comes to not knowing if I’m going to find something I’m going to enjoy or even eat there.  Having a little ‘heads up’ about what’s on the menu can go a long way towards making or breaking an evening.  While our guests were here, we decided that we wanted to go out to a more ‘fancy’ restaurant than the pizza joint we’d been to the night before.  Friday evening they were going to cook for us all, so it was going to be our last chance to dine out together. (they left Saturday morning)  Our ‘go-to’ place wasn’t yet open for their full summer schedule; when I called to get a reservation, I got the answering machine, which told me they weren’t open.  So we needed somewhere else to go.  There were two quasi high-end options, but neither of those places ever appealed to me, as I always got the impression the staff was looking down their noses at me, and I never really felt comfortable going there.  I always had the notion someone was going to approach me suggesting I needed to be wearing a tie, or I was using a salad fork instead of a dinner one.   When I inquired as to how our guests felt, they seemed to be reluctant to go to either of them as well.  So again, we needed a new option.
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