|Crossing the Connecticut|
But I'm not here to talk about being back at work. No, the purpose of this post is to regale you with tales of Thanksgiving and my travels to the more northerly bits of New England. By "more northerly", I mean farther north than my normal haunts. Not so northerly as to be almost in Canada, I have not been that far north in New England in quite some time. (I believe the last time I was that far north was circa 1973. In the vicinity of Lake Memphremagog it was. Said lake being depicted below.)
(Hhhmm, first time I've done an aside which had a pictorial component. I may do that more often. I rather liked it. Also I enjoyed the way Google reacted when I attempted to search for "Memphremagog". Another aside: if you spell it "google" then Blogger indicates that it's misspelled. It does however like "Google". Well, it is a proper name I suppose. And Google and Blogger are stable-mates. But I see that I have gone way off topic at this point. So let's get back to it. Shall we?)
So on Wednesday last (the 21st of November by my reckoning) the Missus and I bid the feline inhabitants of Chez Sarge a fond "see you in 3 days", boarded the vehicle (for those in-the-know, that would be "Big Girl", for those not in-the-know, do your research, much is revealed on one's right), started the engine, backed into the street and headed North. North to the land of my birth. North to see my Mom, my two brothers and assorted relatives.
We arrived at my Mom's house with an hour or so of daylight still remaining. Being as how it was the day before Thanksgiving there were no volunteers willing to step up and prepare a meal. So, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays, we naturally headed out to a Chinese restaurant. While the Missus and my Mom saw nothing at all humorous about going to a Chinese restaurant on "Thanksgiving Eve", I (having watched "A Christmas Story" perhaps one too many times) was nearly horizontal, so consumed by laughter was I. The Missus explained to my Mom, "He's been like this ever since he quit smoking."
And the Missus is correct. It seems that since I've kicked the habit I am somewhat, shall we say, "unrestrained" in some emotional aspects. At work I have a "self-evaluation" form sitting in my e-mail In Box. Every time I look at it, I begin to chuckle. Because I have filled it out as follows:
Summary Comments: I think that I’m wonderful and am the greatest thing since sliced bread. To say anything less about myself would be both dishonest and questionable. I sometimes believe that I am from a more highly evolved species than the rest of my co-workers.
Key Strengths: Smart. Quick learner. Although taking 36 years to quit smoking would seem to indicate that I’m not actually a quick learner, this is about work, not personal life-style choices. And I did actually quit smoking which is apparently effecting my tolerance for this “self-evaluation” nonsense. I do know that the lack of nicotine in my system has certainly increased my tendency to be brutally honest.
Key Development Needs: Unknown. I don’t know what I don’t know. By definition.
I'm thinking that I may need to reword this before I submit it to the "powers that be". Not sure that they would see the humor in this. (Oh crap. I see I've wandered off on another tangent. Sorry.)
Back to Our Story
Okay. Dinner on "Thanksgiving Eve" was at a Chinese restaurant.
Thursday morning (Thanksgiving Day for those of you not paying attention, don't try to hide, I know who you are) dawned chilly and rather foggy. The fog burned off eventually, it also warmed up quite considerably for the two or three hours of daylight we have this time of year. (Yeah, yeah. I know there are more hours of daylight in New England than 2 or 3. I was being dramatic.) And my youngest brother arrived from his current area of operations, slightly north and west of Boston. We were now ready to head over the river to my oldest younger brother's house.
Now another short digression is in order here. I have two younger brothers. Younger at this point being a very relative term. We're all over 50. My dear Mom does NOT like to hear that the ages of her three sons adds up to 167. As in, "Hey Mom, your kids are 167 years old!" Sure to garner a dirty look from my mother that would kill a lesser man. At any rate, I have two brothers, both of lesser years.
It feels wrong to refer to either of them as a "kid brother". None of us are "kids" any more. At least not physically. So I refer to the younger of my two younger brothers as my youngest younger brother. And the older of my two younger brothers as my oldest younger brother. Typing all that out made my head hurt. Reading it must surely be as painful. So, to make things easier I will refer to the eldest young'n as "The Vermonter" and the youngest young'n as "The Musician".
The Vermonter is truly an old time Vermonter. Non-liberal, loves to hunt and is also a very talented carpenter and builder of things. Now The Musician is a truly talented fellow. Plays the guitar like nobody's business. And I mean CLASSICAL guitar. Oh he can rock with the best, but he can make an acoustic guitar sing like a choir of angels. So those are my two brothers. It is The Vermonter's home we are traveling to for Thanksgiving dinner.
That picture up yonder? That is the bridge between the New Hampshire side of the family and the Vermont side of the family. I've been crossing that bridge since I was a sprout, as a matter of fact, I think that bridge has been there since my Dad was a teenager. He and his two brothers had some stories about that bridge. Did I mention that this used to be a toll bridge? Owned by (ahem) THE RAILROAD. Note the use of all caps. This is intentional, this bridge was owned by THE RAILROAD when the railroad was truly a big deal. A big powerful deal. By again, I digress.
So we're at The Vermonter's house. There's him, his wife (Missus Vermonter, AKA Queen of the Yard Sale), my nephew (The Young Vermonter), my niece (City Girl, after all she went to college up at the University of Vermont in Burlington - Vermont's "big" city), my niece's boyfriend (The Chef, man that kid can cook!), The Vermonter's two dogs (both mostly black lab, both the size of small horses, both friendly as the day is long), Missus Vermonter's two cats (who apparently are not visible to the naked eye), my Mom, my Missus and of course, Yours Truly.
Now I have to tell you that The Vermonter's home is the ancestral dwelling of my tribe. My Dad purchased this home in the Way Back for the princely sum of 15 thousand American dollars. (My maternal grandfather exclaimed that blowing that much cash on a house would surely ruin the young couple that was my Ma and Pa! Not so much, but we came close a couple of times.)
The ancestral palace looks only a little like its original configuration. The Vermonter added an in-law suite a while back, said in-law, sad to say, is no longer with us. The upshot is that the manse is bigger than it used to be. (So am I and I catch hell for it constantly!) The Vermonter and his Missus have really gone to town decorating the place so that now it looks just like one of those quaint old-timey homes you see in Yankee Magazine. Only lived in, well lived in.
So we all sat down to an incredible dinner. Lovingly prepared by the ladies and The Chef, lovingly consumed by us all. The Young Vermonter and I had a grand time berating The Musician over the relative merits of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in print versus the version presented on the big screen by Peter Jackson et al. My brother bemoaned the loss of the trilogy's "quaintness" he remembered from the books. The Young Vermonter mentioned that perhaps the lack of Brazilian music in the movies were perhaps off-putting. (The Musician has quite a thing for Brazilian music. Even taught himself Portuguese after a fashion, his accent sucks but ele entende muito bem! Muito obrigado!
So we somehow managed to twist things such that The Musician didn't like the Lord of The Rings movies because they didn't have Portuguese subtitles. The Vermonter understood, none of the ladies had the foggiest idea of what we were on about. The Chef (wisely I might add) stayed out of it. But there was an unfortunate side effect to our lunacy. Missus Vermonter and Missus Sarge determined that quite enough beer and wine had been consumed and that all and sundry would now have coffee. And watch football.
We watched the Lions lose (sorry Big Time, but when's the last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving?) We watched the Cowboys lose (much to my Mom's delight, she hates all things Texas since the Kennedy assassination, go figure. She condemned the entire state. But especially the Dallas Cowboys! Not me, I can't bring myself to "hate" the Cowboys. Not sure why...
So coffee was savored. Pie was eaten. Football was watched. As evening deepened we eventually recrossed the Connecticut back to Mom's place. There to watch the New England Patriots crush the New York Jets. The Musician left the TV for less than a minute, thus missed the "three touchdowns in 52 seconds" moment. The Missus and Mom kept exclaiming "that has to be some kind of record, doesn't it?"
Me, I just sat back and soaked it all up.
Yes, it's been the best part of forty years (and more!) since I last had the chance to spend Thanksgiving with the "folks back home". It was well worth waiting for. It was superb. It was fun. It was fantastic. Yes, indeed...
It Was Sublime.