November 25, 2022
A joyous Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! This holidays is built on lies and genocide, but since we love an excuse to eat rich foods and have dinner parties, we ignore all of that and eat way too much food. In reality, the advertising industry created most holidays, based on myths, legends, and history, but the traditions we hold around these holidays are by and large created by industries trying to sell us something. My oh my were they ever good at doing so! I cooked second turkey ever yesterday. The first time Luke actively assisted as we brined it and then baked it in our Traeger grill/smoker. This time I was mostly on my own with this project and using an oven and kitchen I was not familiar with. We are still at the campground so I used the commercial ovens they have in the now closed down kitchen. I guessed that my bird was 20 pounds and couldn’t find any place on the packaging where the correct weight was provided. I refrigerated it for 5 days before the big day and thought it would be defrosted fully. I think you can guess what’s coming here. Maybe this has also happened to you. On the big day I took my turkey out of the fridge and started to prepare it for baking. First, I couldn’t get the neck out. If I were more experienced with cooking large game I may have known right then I had a problem. Luke gallantly stepped in to help and eventually we pulled that sucker out. He noted there were some ice chunks inside the bird, but we pulled them out and decided it was probably good enough to cook. I did the turkey bag method as this seemed quicker and promised I wouldn’t have to baste it. If you haven’t figured this out already, my turkey seemed to either be bigger than I thought or still frozen in the middle as it was taking much longer than I planned to fully cook. We ended up calling it done at a certain point and carving the outer layer that was perfectly done and giving the uncooked part to our host to finish cooking for his leftovers.
I should have taken a photo, but I was too busy cooking and then eating to think of it. You will have to paint it yourself with my descriptions. Our manager here at the campground is now living in the boss apartment here so he offered to host the meal at his place. It is a spacious and nicely decorated modern place. We have only two other neighbors who we worked with still here. One couple brought pecan and pumpkin pies and stuffing. Our manager made green beans and biscuits. His friend Marian came and brought salad, veggies with dip, a turtle pie, and chips with a cream cheese cranberry salsa. I made pumpkin gingerbread bars with a cream cheese icing drizzle, the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and cranberry relish. It was all very delicious despite my turkey troubles. We couldn’t manage dessert so it all was packed up as leftovers to split up. There was only 6 of us and probably enough food for 15. That’s what Thanksgiving is about though right? As my best friend Niki has taught me, “I like scratching my butt the next day and eating leftovers. I think everyone should get to have this experience so I make enough to send everyone home with some.” In Nikki speak “scratching my butt” is her way of saying doing nothing. Really, Thanksgiving is about being thankful for all you have and sharing what you can with others. That’s exactly what we did. I hope your day was splendid as well.
Prior to this magnificent feast I settled into my first full week of unemployment since Spring. It’s been pretty nice so far. I made a whole miniature detective agency in just two days. I had one of those days where I just got into the flow where I lost track of time and just enjoyed what I was doing until it was done. My favorite part is the investigation board behind the desk.
We also took the dogs on their weekly adventure. This time we went up by Chriss Lake on Boulder mountain. Dobby doesn’t quite seem to understand ice. He jumped in the creek and was confused when the top was slippery and hard. I earned some CEUs by taking a class on treatment for PTSD for military vets. It was fairly interesting even though I haven’t done any treatment for a while now. It gave me perspective I didn’t have before on some aspects of military culture around service and sacrifice and how these values and beliefs can interact with PTSD down the road. At the beginning of the training, there was a glossary of common military terms. Most of them were acronyms commonly used. However, nestled among all the expected jargon was the term shitbird. I thought this was the funniest thing as it was the only slang or non-technical term included. I guess being a shitbird is a common military thing or perhaps what is common is how much they stress the importance of not being a shitbird in the culture.
My remaining neighbor Rachel invited me on a hike and so we hiked to the top of this knobby butte across the street from our campground. It’s the one pictured on the cover here. It was not a very difficult hike except for the steepness of it seems to activate asthma for all of those of us who have a touch of it. I look like the most unhealthy hiker with my breaks to catch my breath and little coughing fits. Oh well, it was a beautiful view from the top so definitely worth it.
We kept our eyes open for artifacts or pictographs. What we did find were three rings made of stone on the top which appeared to have been there for a very long time. Rachel posed for a photo with an old car door we found.
We also found several large bones at the top. After discussing them briefly we decided to collect them so we could reassemble them in our campsite and determine which type of animal this was. Rachel, like many, is braver than I. She ventured into a crevice/cave like area near the bones. She made the sane decision to come back out when she spotted a large poop in the cave and we began wondering if this was a good spot for a mountain lion. I stayed on the safer routes.
Here is what we ended up with from our bone scavenging…I introduce what I believe is a partial deer. This was actually really fun to do so now I’m going to try to bring collection bags with me every time I go hiking. Maybe I can talk about this practice/experience when I start my volunteer work with the paleo team in the Spring to excavate local dinos.
I also started a new paint by number. My mother-in-law Lynn gave me this easel last year and it’s perfect for painting on! I’ll never grow too old for paint by numbers. It’s the same feeling I get when building a puzzle. I just love seeing the colors and picture come together. It gives me a zing of satisfaction every time. I hope you also have found many things in your life that bring you delight. That’s really what it’s all about.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.