Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Thanksgiving Tale


A tale more spicy than nice, and guaranteed not to be,   never   ever,   ever,   a Hallmark movie of the week.

About two weeks before Thanksgiving we decided on turkey for our dinner.

Thanksgiving is actually the only time of the year we want turkey, and we truly don't care that much about the turkey.


Thanksgiving left-overs are pretty special.  Thinking about allll those creamy mashed potatoes (and gravy), and delicious yummy stuffing (and gravy), and candied yams and candied carrots and yeast rolls (with gravy), and all those other favorite dishes.


I didn't want to mess with cooking a turkey, that's still (in my mind) my mama's job.


I called the catering department of a local grocery store and asked if they would be roasting turkeys this year for Thanksgiving.

The answer was yes, but I should call in the order soon.

My response - "this is the call, let's do it."

She wrote my information down and we were done.


Being a secretary all my life and aware of how easily things can go wrong, I called again a week later to make sure we were all set.

All set.


The day before Thanksgiving Donald had an appointment in town so I asked if he would pick up the turkey and he agreed.

I stayed home and made the casseroles to put in the fridge to move to the oven the next day.  Things were going smoothly.

Then Donald arrived home.

With the turkey.

A really HUGE turkey.


"Oh, this is the wrong turkey," says I.

He pointed to the tag with our name on it.

"Why did we wait until today to pick up this huge frozen turkey?" he asks.

I could not even speak.

Just went immediately to the phone, called the woman in charge of the catering department of the local grocery and her story was . . . 

spit, sputter, spit

My question was "so what am I supposed to do with this huge frozen turkey that I'm supposed to be serving tomorrow?"

More spits, sputters and spits until she got to the part where she wanted to assure me it was fine fine fine.  Her customers, she says, place their frozen turkey in water over night, or they . . . ,   or they . . .,  and this is when I interrupted.

"I know how to thaw a fucking turkey."

"Oh.  Well, I guess you can bring it back."

Which I did.  

There were two turkey breasts left in that store and I brought one home.

And it was delicious (recipe below).

And so we had our nice Thanksgiving dinner and the next day we had it again.  Man, I love Thanksgiving left-overs.

What I really love is how hard Don Barley laughed from the other room as he overheard me say "I know how to thaw a fucking turkey."

And how tickled we both have gotten over the past couple of days when out of nowhere Don Barley will say "My wife KNOWS how to thaw a fucking turkey."

It's a saying we'll have for years.  

Never shall another Thanksgiving pass that the Barley home does not shout or whisper some words about thawing a fucking turkey.  


Ain't they grand?

Thank God for those of us who have a sense of humor.

What on earth would life be like without one?  I hope I never have to live a life with no humor.  

I hope you all had exactly the kind of Thanksgiving Day you wanted and needed.

And if the occasion arrives that you might need to thaw a turkey  -  well, you know the rest.

And DO try this recipe - it is DELICIOUS!  (Would I lie?)  AND fix it in your crockpot so you can use your oven for all those other things - casseroles, pies (Mrs. Smith does a great apple pie), rolls, etc etc etc.

Slow Cooker Maple Herb Butter Turkey Breast with Apple Cider Glaze Recipe from A Kitchen Addiction


For the Turkey
1 (5-7 lb) bone-in turkey breast, thawed and patted dry with paper towels
¼ C butter, softened
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sage
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 C chicken broth
½ C onion, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 ribs celery, rinsed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

For the Glaze
2 C apple cider
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
In a small saucepan, combine apple cider and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to medium-low and allow to simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup or a little less than half. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together garlic powder, thyme, basil, sage, salt, and pepper.
In a separate small bowl, stir together softened butter, maple syrup, maple extract, and half of herb mixture.
Spread herb butter underneath the skin of turkey breast. (You can use a spoon to get to the edges and spread it around with your hand on the top of the skin.) Sprinkle remaining herb mixture over the top.
Pour chicken broth into a 6 quart slow cooker. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves. Place turkey breast on top.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or until internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Two hours before the turkey is done, brush the apple glaze over the top and sides of the turkey breast every 30 minutes with a basting brush. You can check the temperature of the meat at 4 hours to see if the turkey breast will be done at 6 hours or closer to 8 hours. (If you find that your glaze has gotten too sticky, just put the glaze back on over low heat and stir in some more apple cider until it becomes runny enough to brush over the turkey again.)
Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing into pieces and serving.
Optional: Place the turkey breast in a broiler-safe dish and broil for 5-7 minutes to brown the skin.

Bon Appétit

Friday, November 26, 2021

Happy Birthday to Me

Today I turn 73,

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday TO meeeee !!!!   

 Future Plans by Kate Barnes

When I am an old, old woman I may very well be
living all alone like many another before me
and I rather look forward to the day when I shall have
a tumbledown house on a hill top and behave
just as I wish to. No more need to be proud—
at the tag end of life one is at last allowed
to be answerable to no one. Then I shall wear
a shapeless felt hat clapped on over my white hair,
sneakers with holes for the toes, and a ragged dress.
My house shall be always in a deep-drifted mess,
my overgrown garden a jungle. I shall keep a crew
of cats and dogs, with perhaps a goat or two
for my agate-eyed familiars. And what delight
I shall take in the vagaries of day and night,
in the wind in the branches, in the rain on the roof!
I shall toss like an old leaf, weather-mad, without reproof.
I’ll wake when I please, and when I please I shall doze;
whatever I think, I shall say; and I suppose
that with such a habit of speech I’ll be let well alone
to mumble plain truth like an old dog with a bare bone.

"Future Plans" by Kate Barnes from Where the Deer Were. © David R. Godine, 1994


By Kathleen Rooney

At first, birthdays were
reserved for kings and saints.
But it’s rainbow sprinkles and
face painting for everybody
these days.

The best way to avoid having
your birthday ruined is to avoid
having any expectations for
your birthday.

Without the delineation of
years, time would become
an expanse of open water.
Horizonless, shark-filled. One
of my biggest fears.

A rush of Orange Crush—that
sparkle on the tongue—and
“Make a wish!” shouted at the top
of tiny lungs are a couple of things
I recall. Balloons and streamers
and the first piece of cake. Conical
hats with elastic chin straps.

Is a birthday party an instance
of what Durkheim meant
by collective effervescence?
Profane tasks cast away for
a sacred second?

Whence my ambivalence about
birth as a metaphor? Birth for
entities not brought forth from
a womb?

“Happy Birthday to You” is
a bit of a dirge.

It’s said that the party hat may
have originated with the dunce
cap. An abrogation of social
norms? Not punishment in
school, but foolish cavorting.
Worn for the pinning of tails on
donkeys. The tossing of eggs.
Sported for a sack race.

Don’t say “A star is born” unless
you’re talking about the movie.
Don’t tell a woman her books
are her babies.

For my next birthday, please
remember that I love getting
mail. You could send me a
funny card, and maybe a
package. A package full of
money. Or a necklace made
of lapis lazuli, believed by the
ancients to ward off melancholy.

What an ego boost, to have
one’s birthday suit evaluated by
another person as cute.

“Today is the oldest you’ve ever
been, and the youngest you’ll
ever be again.” Supposedly
Eleanor Roosevelt said that.

I wouldn’t say I have a problem
with mortality. If anything,
I tend to gravitate toward the
timeworn: a neighborhood
where the roots of the trees
crack the sidewalks.

Birthdays are about pleasure—
excess and decadence.
But pleasure is painful.
Because memento mori.
Because hoary cliché: We’re
not getting any younger.

The candles gutter; the candles
go out. Better to blow them
dark yourself.

Birthdays are okay, but what
about death days? Of the
365 days we cycle through
annually, on one of them,
we’ll cease to be alive.

Should the hour of arrival be
more of a factor? Should some
of us have birthnights?

Mayonnaise is my favorite
secret ingredient for cake,
birthday or otherwise.

There’s no predicting the
days of greatest significance.
Best simply to be vigilant.
Like my friend Beth said, not
even trying to be wise, “In
my life, the piñatas come
around pretty quick—I just
swing at them with my stick.”

Kathleen Rooney’s most recent book is the novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. She is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Sunday, November 21, 2021

I'm pretty sure we never went to Ocean City, MD for Thanksgiving week, but if we had I'm pretty sure my dad and I would have eaten some Fisher's caramel popcorn.  And some Thrasher's fries. And probably a slice of pizza.  I'm pretty sure this was an Easter Sunday, no idea why it's popping up in today's Facebook memories, but it's always nice to run across memories of my folks.  I will miss having them at our table for Thanksgiving dinner.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Back to Paris and Amsterdam, i think . . .

I haven't traveled as much as some folks I know - a couple who owns a villa in Italy as their second home, for instance.  Followed by some good friends who own an elite travel agency, along with others.

Although I haven't traveled as much as I might have liked, I have traveled to most of the places I have wanted to.  Ireland and Italy are still on my list.  But funny enough, whenever we start talking about our next trip, we end up right back in Paris via Amsterdam.  

Over the years, I've traveled with large groups of 20 and smaller groups of 10, 5 or 4.

And I've traveled with an even smaller "group" of 2.

There are memories attached to each and every trip I've ever taken.  Some are memories that will make me smile for a lifetime - some . . .  not so great.

And, of course, there are those travel stories that might have been not such great experiences while happening, but make for great stories once you're back home.

Memories - just a few . . . 

Having the waiter in a Paris restaurant telling your group the bill had already been paid by "the men."  What men?  Who?  Why?  But, thanks very much . . . 

Actually finally (after many tries) getting up on a surfboard and riding a wave all the way in while in Hawaii.  My mom on the beach applauding my arrival.  My dad watching but forgetting to take a picture.  That's a fun memory, but I was kinda mad at my dad at the time . . . 

Being asked to leave a ski lesson in Snowmass, CO because my buddy and I were "disruptive," comes to mind.  (Nope - we never did learn how to ski, but we laughed a LOT, explored a lot and found John Denver's home.  You make your own fun, right?).

Waking up in a tiny hotel where no one spoke English in a tiny town on a small island in Greece the day of departure, looking around the room only to realize my travel companion was nowhere to be seen was  -   -   -  disconcerting.  Travel companion showed up onboard our flight seconds before take-off.

There's also traveling solo.

Some people don't even consider doing this, but I like it quite a lot.

Some of my solo trips, however, have been run-away trips.  I spent a week in Ocean City, MD one cold November without Practice Husband No. 1.  He had no idea where I was, which is exactly how it needed to be.  My mom and dad knew how to reach me, and they were, at that time, the only people who mattered.

Traveling with Practice Husband No. 2 always ended up with bickering and arguing and ended only because I moved out.  After a few run-away solo trips.

I spent the next ten years traveling when I wanted and with whom I wanted and, for the most part, the trips were fun and memorable.  

But then I met the person who is the MOST fun to travel with.  

Bet you can't guess.

Okay - it is Don Barley.


And we have sorely missed traveling these past couple of years.

We did take a beach trip a few months ago and all it did was whet our appetite to do more.


This past week we've been making some plans and hoping everything pans out.

I have missed Paris.

Photographer Unknown

This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me - right?

For those of you who miss traveling, you understand.

The urge is strong.

Coronavirus has kept us all home for a very long time, and could continue keeping us home for even longer. Some of Europe is going through another resurgence right now and new rules are emerging - Traveling to France during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go | CNN Travel

Personally, as long as there's a danger, I'm okay with lockdowns.  I'm okay with them, and I agree with them.

The people refusing to do the right thing like get a vaccination, refusing to wear masks, endangering others - they're the real problem.  And they should be ashamed.

And, of course, they're the ones screaming the loudest.


Donald and I are planning a trip next year.

To Amsterdam and to Paris.

We're also being as prepared as we can possibly be for the chances of the trip being cancelled or postposed.

Our flights are refundable (which makes for probably not the best flights, or the least expensive flights, but that's okay).

We've purchased travel insurance.

We've booked places that guarantee refunds for cancellations, and we're not paying lodging fees in full at booking.  Airbnd and hotels are all well aware of the dangers of another virus resurgence and most are being steadfast in working with their customer base.

Believe me - I know some things can go wrong. There's always the chance of losing some money in cases like these, but we've done what we can to assure that those losses, should they happen, will be minimal.

We love Amsterdam.  In the past we've enjoyed stopping there for a few days before scooting along via train to Paris, but we've never stayed long enough to do some of these things we want.

We have not visited the large street markets, flea markets, or the floating flower market, so those are on the itinerary this trip.

Flight schedules have changed since we last took this Amsterdam/Paris trip.  American Airlines is cutting a lot of flights - many of which include North Carolina.

The flight we've always taken will no longer be available when we go, so we're flying to Amsterdam with a short lay-over in Atlanta. (Flight Booked - "check" - Refundable and WITH travel insurance. If we've learned anything over the past couple of years it's to not take anything for granted. Right? Travel insurance just feels like a necessary, although fairly small, expense that we would be silly to overlook).

The apartment we stayed in the last time we were there is not available. 

After much searching, we found one about 10 minutes away, still in the Jordaan District.

It's located in one of the old canal houses, and it looks adorable.

The neighborhood is delightful with several good restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.  There's plenty to do, including some shopping or whiling away a good part of the day on a terrace watching the world go by.

We love riding the train from Amsterdam to Paris. Comfy and hassle free. (Note: Make train reservations!)

After much debate about where to stay and whether to book another apartment or a hotel we decided to go back to the Ile Saint Louis which is my favorite area. We got to know many of the shopkeepers and waiters when we stayed there a few years ago and since this trip, for me, is going to be more about relaxing than anything else, it just felt right to choose a place that feels familiar. Ile Saint Louis is a small village in the heart of Paris, and convenient for walking, convenient to the Metro, buses and to the Batobus (water bus), which is my favorite.

Map by Nik Neves

We pretty much just flipped a coin to decide between an apartment or a hotel.

Hotel won. (Reservations made - Check).

We'll be staying at the Hôtel Saint-Louis en l´Isle. Yay for Promotional Coupons! And for their free cancellation policy.  (And a sweet little balcony room overlooking the Seine 💗 ).

Because we've visited the places in Paris that we wanted to, and the places all good tourists should visit, many (but not all) of those will be passed on this time.  While I don't feel the urge to wander the Louvre again, I do want to spend a little time in the courtyard around the pyramid while drinking a cup or two of Marly's hot chocolate, maybe at sunset 

Photographer Unknown

 and spending some time sitting in a green chair in Tuileries Garden. 

This trip will be more a "sit in a garden or on a terrace and soak up the ambience of Paris" kinda trip.

That means, of course, Luxembourg Gardens (more sitting in iconic green chairs 😊.  I love those green chairs!).

searching out carousels we've missed,

and re-visiting carousels we love.

I want to spend a day exploring the bouquinistes.  

and having coffee or drinks at Paris cafes, including, of course, Cafe St. Regis

In the meantime, until we actually get there, the fun is in the planning.

And in the dreaming.

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Fairy Tale Poem - Glynn Young's Take on Little Red Riding Hood


Red Whistles at the Wolf

Red, Red’s riding in the hood
scarf on her head
lady looking good

Red, Red’s driving in the hood
convertible blush
lady’s in a rush

Lipsticked red
sunglasses red
tight dress red
retro retro red red red

Red, Red’s cruising in the hood
white hubcapped wheels
bringing those meals

Red, Red’s speeding in the hood
in her red-finned missile
gives the wolf a whistle

Red, Red’s roaring in the hood
wolf takes a jump
becomes a speed bump

Red, Red’s slowing in the hood
wolf’s now dead
don’t mess with Red

—Glynn Young

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Happy Birthday, Mom 😘

 Thinking about my sweet, funny, irreverent, and oh so wise mom today.

If she were still here, we'd be planning a small birthday dinner celebration.

She would have some silly hat on her head while she opened her gifts, and some pithy words to share about getting older.  Her favorites included something about how getting old and creaky sucked.  But, she would always laugh when she said it.  The woman enjoyed life and she loved to laugh.  Her laugh was deep and full and earthy and wicked. She taught me things that would serve me well as I grew from being a skinny  little girl to become a rounder woman of a certain age; some of which I should have paid more attention to sooner.  Learning to speak up for myself sooner and learning the real strength behind the word no would have saved me some heartbreak.  Learning to value myself sooner would have given me more healthy happiness and confidence at an age when I needed it most. 

She would be 95 years old today, and still teaching me important life lessons. I may have even learned enough by now to pay attention.

Love you and miss you, Mom.  Give Daddy a hug from me.