Thanx*10

I was searching high and low for turkey drumsticks. They’re normally available in most local stores, but suddenly, the weekend before the holiday, we couldn’t find them anywhere. We visited seven groceries. Plenty of whole turkeys, turkey breasts, turkey thighs, ground turkey — but no drumsticks. Finally we found them at Rouse’s on the second visit. They were buried under a mountain of turkey necks.

I bought two packages, ten legs, and marinated them in two bottles of mojo criollo for a couple days. I drove all the way out to Kenner to pick up some pecan wood chunks, but I forgot that Bassil’s Ace is closed on Sundays. Fortunately Michael picked some up for me the next day, and so on Thanksgiving I was able to smoke the turkey over a pecan wood and charcoal fire for about three hours.

After

I’d never had turkey mojo before, and I was very happy with the result. I’ve tried several different ways with turkey legs; this had the advantage of being supremely easy as well as delicious. The skin was a little tough. That’s the only thing that might bear improving, though I’m not sure how. Other than that they were just about perfect. Even Persephone liked them.

Eating

More is merrier for Thanksgiving. My parents came to visit, and we were joined by our friend James as well. At the last minute I also invited my old friend and guitar hero Jeff Lee whom I’d only recently learned was here in town, but he couldn’t make it.

Of course we had plenty of other items on the menu besides just turkey, a vast array in fact, prepared mostly by Xy and my mother, everything from sweet potatoes to turnip greens to cranberry salad.

I’d found a pamphlet full of “Inclusive Mealtime Prayers of Thanksgiving” online, and before the meal I asked my father (as the eldest present) to pick one out and read it before the meal. This is the one he chose:

We thank you for this earth, our home; for the wide sky and the blessed sun, for the ocean and streams, for the towering hills and the whispering wind, for the trees and green grass.

 We thank you for our senses by which we hear the songs of birds, and see the splendor of fields of golden wheat, and taste autumn’s fruit, rejoice in the feel of snow, and smell the breath of spring flowers.

 Grant us a heart opened wide to all this beauty; and save us from being so blind that we pass unseeing when even the common thornbush is aflame with glory.
 For each new dawn is filled with infinite possibilities for new beginnings and new discoveries. Life is constantly changing and renewing itself. In this new day of new beginnings, all things are possible. We are restored and renewed in a joyous awakening to the wonder that our lives are and, yet, can be. Amen.

For desert we had pumpkin pie, which Mom made from scratch, from a real pumpkin — not canned. I didn’t think that was done anymore, and I seem to remember a gourmet chef actually recommending canned over fresh, but Mom’s pie certainly made a powerful case in the opposite direction.

After the game we watched the Big Game. Dad and James and I all caught a nap during the second quarter, but we made our way down to Michael and Therese’s house for the second half.

Of course, my parents came down for more than just a meal. Wednesday morning I took them to campus and we toured the new Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion. Then we went to City Park and wandered through the Besthoff Sculpture Garden for an hour while we waited for the New Orleans Museum of Art to open. Amongst all the paintings, we made a special point to visit the life-size portrait of Marie Antoinette, as recent genetic test results indicate she’s a relative on my father’s side of the family.

My parents are really amazingly active — I was about to add, “for their age,” but the truth is I’d be just as amazed if they were in their twenties instead of their seventies. They were constantly going out for walks and exercise, and they made their way back to City Park at least once to enjoy the loop around Big Lake. A neighbor expressed concern over my father’s safety as he roamed the blocks around our house. I just shrugged and said, “He’s lived a long full life.”

Dad was in the midst of a book about the notorious Skull and Bones Club, and he kept making dark conspiratorial comments about the various skull logos emblazoned on my shirt, scarf and bandanna. Eventually I hinted that he should check out the Illuminati. I shudder to think what might happen to him if he investigates too deeply.

And no visit from my parents would be complete without putting Dad to work on some house projects.

Sanding

Friday night we headed back to City Park for the first night of Celebration in the Oaks. The crowds were surprisingly thin, perhaps because of the sudden turn in the weather from unseasonably warm to unseasonably cold — or maybe people don’t really turn out in great numbers until later in December.

Gators

It was a good visit, and a good holiday. I’m also happy to say Thanksgiving no longer vexes and perplexes me. I now understand it as a time to celebrate a particular sentiment — namely, that sense of gratitude we all feel, at least occasionally. Last year I posted a list of people to whom I’m thankful, and that remains pretty accurate. If I wrote such a list now, the main thing I’d want to do is expand the scope, to include the Earth and cosmos.

But Thanksgiving is over, and I’ve got to get back to work on other things.

PS: I finally caught up with Jeff on Friday evening, and we had a blast jabbering into the night for hours on end.

Dead Time

Over the last few weeks I’ve been fiddling with constructing my family tree on ancestry.com. (Thanks to my old high school friend Georgie for getting me hooked.) I managed to trace one line back as far as Torvild Ljøstad, my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather (that’s 17 greats) who was born in 1370 in the Norwegian county of Aust-Agder, possibly at the site of present-day Vegårshei.

I take that with a grain of salt. The further back you go, obviously, the more chances for error. I haven’t double-checked every link in that lineage. Still it’s interesting to think about.

At the same time I was playing with that, I seemed to find myself making more trips to the local graveyards, which led me to contemplate the untimely demise of a young woman named Virginia. I even started actively searching for certain graves. And generally I have just been enjoying the cemeteries.

T

We also discovered the shrine to Santa Muerte — Saint Death.

Sheer coincidence? Perhaps. But this is, after all, the time of year associated with such matters. The Day of the Dead, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, Hallowe’en, Samhain — many names, many cultures, many traditions, but sharing a common theme of remembrance and reverence for ancestors, those who have come before, those who are no longer with us.

Fittingly, Persephone had the idea that she wanted to be a ghost princess. That led to a costume idea for the whole family.

Ghost Royalty

We attended a Samhain ritual. It was focused on remembering ancestors, and it was quite beautiful — or at least I think it was. I was distracted by a certain toddler who was getting antsy. The “Samhain for Kids” celebration was fun, even though our girl was the only child there, but by the time the full grownup ritual was underway, well, it was just too much, too long, for a two-year old, and we were not familiar enough with the surroundings or the proceedings to really cope effectively as parents. I hope our daughter’s behavior was not too distracting to the other celebrants. It became more of a “learning experience” than a spiritual one for me. I wish I could have been more fully present, but in this case I guess you could say my descendant trumped my antecedents.

Nevertheless I got a good snippet of video from before the ritual began.

Here’s the moment I want to hold in my memory of that night: dancing barefoot on the grass with my wife and daughter dressed in ghostly white robes while a dead geisha played the drums by a bonfire. That was magical.

We cut out early and got back home in time to receive several troupes of trick or treaters. I was surprised by the number of kids making the rounds (under adult supervision) despite the big Saints game underway at the time. But the all the kids were home by the time the second half began, and that was a much more exciting half as it developed.

And so yesterday morning, on the Day of the Dead, Persephone and I visited the shrine of Sante Muerte.

Satsumas

When I posted about the shrine to the Mid-City discussion group, a neighbor reacted as follows:

I’m don’t really want to judge any religious beliefs but just so people know, the SANTA MUERTE (Holy Death) is considered almost devil worship by most of Mexico. It is used by most criminals in the narco trafficking, kidnapping, & underground Mexican world to legitimize their activities. It is why the country of Mexico has not recognized it as a legitimate faith. Like all religions or political idealogies, extremists can twist anything to legitimize their activities. Just thought people would want a little perspective. For Americans who don’t know better, in Mexico, it would be similiar to glorifying Islamic terrorists & their warped string of Islam…. I travel to Mexico a lot & enjoy studying the history & culture of the country. But I admit, the statues & shrines are pretty weird & cool.

I’m not sure what to think of that reaction. I do know that I misquoted the sign when I wrote about it the first time. It actually says, “Welcome! To the Shrine of La Sante Muerte and the Dead.” I had forgotten that last part, “and the Dead,” but it’s crucial. Clearly, whoever erected the shrine is thinking about the same thing as the Wiccans who devised the Samhain ritual we attended and the Catholics we saw at the cemetery whitewashing the family tomb.

We left three satsumas.

I wonder what Torvild Ljøstad would have made of it.

Summer Is a-Coming In

We had a little party. For Beltane and May Day. I didn’t send out engraved invitations, only announced it via Twitter.

What is this day, anyway? A cross-quarter day, Beltane falls halfway between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Some folks mark it as the beginning of summer, which makes sense to me.

We had a total of six guests, so it was perhaps the smallest such party we’ve ever thrown, but also one of the most enjoyable. In attendance were: Michael H., Brother O’Mara, Caitlin and her friend Randy, and a little later DJ and Lala.

And of course also P. & Xy & yours truly. So nine all told, including hosts. A nice number.

We drank a pitcher of Limoncello Collins, and numerous other drinks were consumed. (Most notably a quantity of Luxardo Amaro Abano.) We fired up the grill and cooked sausages and burgers. We oiled up the blades and shaved my head — just the underneath parts, still keeping it long on top for now. No one else was up for a shave, alas.

And we talked and talked and talked, about religion and politics and the apocalyptic unfoldings in the Gulf of Mexico. It was more than interesting to hear the perspectives of an African-American from New Jersey on the racial politics here in the Deepest South. By the same token, I was glad when DJ showed up, a friend who is also a native to the city and a person of color, who is progressive and intelligent and who (in a nutshell) represents everything the world thinks we’re not. It was cool those guys got to meet each other, especially since they are both teaching in the public schools.

I didn’t take any pictures or record any songs or create any great works of art out of this event. But I enjoyed it a great deal, so much that I’m already imagining what it might be like to do it again next year.

It certainly feels like summer’s coming in. It’s hot and sticky and after three days of overcast turbulence it’s finally raining. I can only hope it gets our grass growing to cover up the bare patches that have begun to appear over the last month.

Arboreal Equinox

We decided to celebrate the vernal equinox by planting a tree. We just so happened to have a pomegranate tree which was a gift from M. Homan and family for Persephone’s second birthday.

Of course, the vernal equinox is traditionally regarded as the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s a time of year positively fraught with significance. In Greek mythology, spring begins when the goddess Persephone returns to the upper realms and is reunited with her mother Demeter. So this seemed perfect.

The equinox fell at a most convenient time, about half past noon Saturday, and that’s when we planted the tree. I had Persephone throw a few rosemary leaves into the hole before we put the tree in, symbolizing our wishes for luck, rejuvenation, cleansing and energy.

Persephone's Tree

We are still concerned about the toxic levels of lead (and who knows what else) in the soil around here, so we took pains to make sure the girl didn’t touch any dirt and we cleaned up carefully afterward. I was skeptical about planting a fruit tree in soil that may be contaminated, but my reading on the subject indicates that while toxins accumulate in the roots, they don’t tend to make it up to the fruit.

The Homan family was unable to join us for this little celebration, but they loaned us a shovel. When we passed by their house this morning, the entire family was planting trees. I also have it on good authority that a bunch of students from the University planted 200 trees yesterday. All in all, a good weekend for trees in New Orleans.

Three on the Fourth

We used to purchase thousands of flags for International Flag-Burning Day [anthem] and build huge bonfires. It was so thrilling to watch the colors of every nation go up in flames. But who can afford that in today’s economy? Besides which, we realized we were subsidizing the flag industry. That’s no way to end to the scourge of nationalism! So we decided to boycott International Flag-Burning Day, to stay true to our principles.

Instead, we filled up the kiddie pool, fired up the grill, cranked up the tunes, and enjoyed what I suppose is a pretty traditional celebration of the fourth of July. It felt like a day at the beach. We had a blast, and it dawned on me that we have rarely taken time to play together as a family, all three of us. Usually one of us is minding the child while the other is cleaning or cooking or doing some work. There’s a lot of play at our house, but the girl is usually playing with Mom or with Dad, not both at the same time. Playing together, all three of us, was a whole different vibe. I relate to Xy in one way, to Persephone in another, so this felt like two modalities intersecting. It felt like two worlds colliding — but in a good way. Life felt suddenly much richer.

When darkness fell we watched the fireworks over the Mississippi from our front porch.

Celebrations of Fire Against the Darkness

We went to the Celebration in the Oaks last night, the three of us as a family unit. There’s something about lights in the darkness at this time of year. It struck me that this is some of the same magic that drives the bonfire ritual. (And in case you haven’t heard, the bonfire is on after all. The Gambit Blog has had some excellent coverage of this strange story.) The depth of all this can be gauged, I think, by the fact that it truly appeals to all ages. A ten-month-old child can enjoy those festive lights strung up throughout the gardens just as much as some forty-year-olds, or eighty-year-olds, or just about anyone really. But I think our enjoyment of the experience was unquestionably enhanced by seeing it through Persephone’s eyes.

Why Halloween Sucks

Why do I hate Hallowe’en? It’s because of the Electronic Light-up Scary Yo-yo from Gealex Toys. It’s because of the Ma & Pa Bones Permaplastic Glow-in-the-Dark Skeletons. It’s because of the Sound-Activated Pumpkin Novelty from Hallmark: “It Lights Up — It Laughs!”

It’s because of the Spooky Vampire: “Light-sensor activated! Lifelike animation! Talks in a spooky voice!” Wave your hand and the plastic vampire’s eyes light up. He opens a coffin, revealing a plastic skeleton. Its eyes are blinking on and off. “Welllllllcome…” A tinny voice emanates from a hidden speaker. “We’ve been waiting for you!” Demoniacal laughter. A crash of organ chords.

That’s why I hate Hallowe’en.

Shopping at the grocery store, I immediately notice the salad bar, decked out in seasonal display. Stuffed dolls sit on all four corners: two witches, a scarecrow, a pumpkin-man. They’re made in China from “polyester and synthetic fibers.”

An inflatable ghost is suspended from the ceiling, half purple and half transparent, the word “Boo!” on its belly.

Anatomically correct skeletons swing from the orange-and-black crepe-paper entwined columns. Hanging inside the salad bar, white ghost-baggies with twist-tied necks trail ectoplasm over the lettuce. Plastic jack-o-lantern buckets contain bacon bits, croutons, napkins, and packets of House Italian Dressing (by Kraft).

The produce section is festooned with fifty-odd pumpkins. My wife swears she saw a Kroger employee commended by his superior for painting them all with happy, goofy faces. One pumpkin has a blue nose and is slobbering like a rabid idiot. Caught up in the wonder of it all, my wife puts her produce in the wrong cart. A ruckus ensues.

At the deli I spot a witch with googly eyes and flourescent green skin, wearing a fluorescent orange robe and fluorescent yellow shoes. According to the speech balloon over her head, she is saying “Eeek!” Why?

Perhaps she was frightened by that evil owl eying her from across the aisle. But wait — that owl is no Hallowe’en gimmick. It’s the Hooters Owl, gazing lecherously from a packet of Hooter’s Wing Breading.

A chill runs down my spine and between my legs. I know about Hooters. These are the people who offered to pay for my sister’s breast augmentation surgery. All she had to do was take a job waiting tables at their bar in Union Station. In the Hooter’s uniform, of course: very short shorts and a cut-away tanktop.

Scary, huh? I guess you gotta get a boob job to work a boob job. My sister turned them down. But we still tell the story on spooky autumn evenings.

And now, at last, you can do up chicken wings at home just like they make ’em at Hooters. And if you’re lucky, you can get a girlfriend to dress up like a Hooters waitress for you. Or just rent the “Girls of Hooters” video. (Better save that cooking grease.)


A hapless 6th-grader finds a phosphorescent “Jason” hockey mask in the dairy freezer. His mom makes him put it back. He tells us that his home is decorated with strings of skeleton-lights that flash on and off. “It’s really annoying, actually.”

I wonder: what’s happened to Hallowe’en? Was it always this cheesy? Does anyone really think that day-glo witches are frightening?

I wander into the potato chip aisle. The Ruffles package sports a green- skinned witch with six warts (count ’em — six!) on her split nose and tufts of purple facial hair sprouting on her fat chin. She’s wearing not one but two conical hats: a traditional black witch hat with belt and buckle, atop which is perched a tiny party hat, polka-dotted orange and purple.

A poster hangs from above: an ancient mummy confronting a barrel in his Egyptian tomb. Who has violated the sanctity of his sacred resting place? Grave robbers? No! Candy manufacturers! The barrel springs open to reveal a cache of glowing “fun size” Snicker bars.

The “Back To School” candy-kiosk depicts a hallucinatory panorama: a freckle-face kid peering out from behind a huge pile of books stacked with Milky Ways, giant pencils marching toward a playground where one boy hands a small packet to to another — is it a drug deal? Sure enough. M&M’s.

A lovable ghost bobs up beside me, hugging a load of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Kisses, and York Peppermint Patties in his transparent arms.

“Don’t be scared,” he says. “I’m a friendly ghost.”

I can’t help snorting: “Scared? You couldn’t scare my six-year-old niece. You couldn’t scare anybody, except maybe Ray Bradbury.”

The silly specter cocks an eyebrow. “Ray Bradbury? Who’s he?”

“A writer. He predicted a sanitized future, a time when people are no longer afraid of the dark, because all the tales of horrible wraiths and flesh-eating goblins have been suppressed, forgotten, censored.” I stare right through the amiable apparition, lost in thought. “It looks as though Ray was right. But it’s not the censors. It’s the vendors.”

“The who?”

“You know, the sugar-peddlers. They’re cashing in on a Hallowe’en for kids. That’s why everything’s so cute. That’s why you look so goofy.”

“Well, you look pretty goofy yourself, mister!” He floats off in a snit.

I can’t help but feel that something has been lost.

Continue reading “Why Halloween Sucks”

My First Father’s Day

I’ve managed to stretch my first Father’s Day into a whole weekend. It started Friday night and with any luck I’ll still be celebrating Monday morning. But in the midst of all this raucous debauchery I wanted to give a shout out to the women who made all this possible: my mom, my wife, my daughter. And of course I’ve got to give props to my own father, whom I now enjoy calling Grandpa Ray. Thanks y’all. Without your cooperative efforts I wouldn’t ensconced in glory.

Super Fat

Today is Mardi Gras, the most wonderful day of the year. Ideally I’d be getting up at the crack of dawn, donning a wild costume, and venturing forth to partake in a day of mad revelry, probably hooking up with the Societé de Sainte Anne and walking from the Bywater to the Marigny to the French Quarter and back again.

Alas, not this year. My twisted ankle is still not up to a normal day’s activity, much less Mardi Gras. Also, Xy’s very pregnant and not up for it either. So we are staying home today.

Often we remark that in the rest of the country it’s just another Tuesday. But not so today. It’s Super Tuesday, the biggest day of primaries in the history of the nation. I expect I’ll be watching some of the returns and rooting for Obama.

Often we remark on this day that there’s no place we’d rather be — except maybe Rio. And so I have Black Orpheus cued up in the DVD player. No, it can’t compare to the real thing, but it will have to do.

Maybe I’ll put on my papier-mâché crown and hobble around the block just for auld lang syne. But to tell the truth I don’t mind staying home today. I’ve got a few tasks to tackle, and it just feels like the right thing for us this year.

Happy Super Fat Tuesday, everybody.

Happy New Year from New Orleans

Bonfire

Xy made one circuit of the bonfire, not easy for a pregnant lady given the general rowdiness.

Next year, prob’ly not.

Our old friend Tony stopped by. Living in Seattle seems to have softened him up. In the old days, I had to be careful, as drinking around him had a high correlation with major hangovers. Now I was drinking him under the table. Tony says Seattle’s okay, but he hopes to return to New Orleans someday.

Blanket

I got some clothes and a swell electric garlic roaster for Christmas this year, but by far the coolest gift comes from my dear departed Grandma Mildred.

Quilt

It’s a crib blanket that I used as a child forty years ago, handmade by Grandma. The theme seems to be travel. It says: “BY AIR, BY SEA, BY LAND” and it depicts boys and girls employing various means of locomotion: an airplane, a hot air balloon, a sailboat, a train and an automobile.

Apparently Mom kept it on a shelf all these years and decided it’s time to pass it on to the next generation. Thanks Mom.

Scratchy Chin Season

Chin Hair

I’ve started a new tradition. I’m not shaving between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. This gives me an annual chance to appreciate just how gray my beard is getting. I’d say I’m about 50% gray at this point. Then, on New Year’s Day, I’ll shave it clean and get a fresh start.

Footnote: I do have to shave my throat to make it look like a beard and not just scraggly. Where’s Sweeney Todd when you need him?

Christmas Questions

A question to all the Christians out there:

How would you like to see non-Christians act with regard to Christmas? How can we be both respectful to you and true to ourselves?

Clearly we can’t celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday, so would you rather we not participate at all? That doesn’t seem quite fair, since there have been celebrations around the winter solstice since ancient times, long before the birth of Christ. It would be a real bummer to be surrounded by people who are celebrating and not join in the festive spirit.

But if we celebrate an entirely pagan Yule, will Christians find that offensive? Won’t it be construed as an aggressive attack on Christmas itself?

Would you prefer we join in a watered-down secularized version of Xmas, accentuating Santa and eliminating Jesus? If I was a Christian, I’d certainly be concerned about the rampant commercialization and secularization of this religious holiday. I don’t want to contribute to that. It’s a Christian holiday, and I respect that.

So what options are left?

Seriously, I would like to know what you think, because Christmas is a very confusing time for me.

Overballed

We’re having a holiday open house at the office today, and we all brought cookies and other sweets. I thought it would be fun and unique to bring brandy balls. So I made them last night and brought them in this morning, and placed them on the table with a sign.

Bart's Brandy Balls

But Boss Lady’s husband (Elliott, aka the inimitable HammHawk) had the same idea. He made bourbon balls.

And much to my chagrin, his balls are bigger than mine.

How very humiliating.

Update: By day’s end, the general conclusion seems to be that although Elliott’s balls are bigger, mine are more potent.

Smoked Turkey Legs with a Satsuma-Honey Glaze

After the culinary fiasco of 2004, I approached this year’s Thanksgiving with some trepidation. My confidence was not bolstered when Xy finally read the creme bruleé recipe and asked the following immortal question:

What’s an egg yolk?

I couldn’t believe she was serious, but it turns out she’s never separated an egg before and couldn’t remember which part was which. Hint: The white is the part that turns white when you cook it. The yolk is the other part.

My main responsibility was the turkey. Here’s how I did it.

My original idea was to follow a recipe in the paper that called for slow-cooking turkey legs with mandarin oranges. However, as Thanksgiving Day approached we realized that our crockpot was not big enough to accommodate the six large legs Xy had purchased. Also, it seemed like a shame not to use the Big Green Egg for such an occasion. So I decided to change gears.

From Recipe Link I got the idea to brine the legs, something I’d never even heard of before.

Making the brine was easy: a gallon of water, a cup of salt, half a cup of brown sugar, a gallon of veggie stock. (Actually I didn’t use a full cup of salt. I used 3/4 cup and rounded it off with a 1/4 cup Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.) Bring to a boil. Let it return to room temperature, then combine with a bunch of ice water and immerse the turkey legs. Put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I fired up the Big Green Egg, and got it about as hot as I ever have, over 900ºF, I think. Then I took it back down to something like 250º. I had a lot of pecan wood chips intermixed with the charcoal to impart a nice smoky flavor.

I rinsed the brine off the legs and got them on the grill around 9:30 AM. Smoked ’em for a good four hours. More like five probably. After the first two hours, I turned them and thought they looked a little dry, so I decided to concoct a mop. Returning to the mandarin orange idea, we made a glazing sauce out of fresh-squeezed satsuma juice and honey (and lemon and olive oil and butter and maybe some other stuff). I then turned and mopped the legs every half hour or so until it was time to eat.

Smoking the Legs

They turned out well. In fact, they were so appetizing that even my vegetarian friends were tempted into sampling them.

Smoked Turkey Legs with a Satsuma Glaze

But next year I’d like to try making them a little spicier. Maybe some more cayenne in the brine or the glaze.

Also on the menu: raw oysters (plus a few thrown on the grill) and oyster dressing and Xy’s famous cheeseball and herbed mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce (with the “can lines still visible”) and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and home-made thin mint cookies (even better than the Girl Scout version).

And of course, Xy’s key lime creme bruleé.

Xy's Bruleé

Despite several mishaps, she pulled it together, and it was delicious.

I'm Eating Key Lime Creme Bruleé

But mostly we were happy to enjoy the company of friends: Daisy and DJ and Anna and her daughter Lily and Christina from New York who joined us at the last minute.

Footnote: After the meal we eventually made a pilgrimage to a suburban cineplex to see American Gangster which turns out to be a perfect Thanksgiving flick.

Thankstaining

I’ve gotten the staining done. It took four days of solid work, plus a half-day of touch up this morning, not to mention a day of dicking around prep work, but it’s done.

Next step: varnish. I hope the varnishing doesn’t take as long. I’ll get started on that tomorrow. I’ve got three days before I have to go back to work.

As for the rest of today, it’s Thanksgiving. This time of year always make me think about home. Besides the obvious holiday reasons, it was around this time when Xy and I came back to New Orleans two years ago. We weren’t back in our house yet, but we were here in the city, staying on David’s couch. We shared a Thanksgiving meal with Mike the Electrician who would shortly thereafter wire us up and continues to work on our renovation to this day.

Here it is two years later and we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in our own home. So you see, we are making progress after all. We’ve got friends coming over, and I’m smoking a mess of turkey legs,and Xy’s trying to make key lime creme bruleé.

Dating the Severed Head

Olivia and the Disembodied Head

Olivia brought this thing into the office last week. Press the button and it comes to life and recites a variety of different spooky-humorous messages.

Update: I assumed this item would be put in storage once Hallowe’en had passed. But Olivia tells me that “since our boss is a psychologist” she plans to leave it in place in perpetuity.