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We are preparing for Thanksgiving here in America. In our houses, that means that MKL is replacing toilets, scrubbing floors, and vacuuming carpets, because he is hosting this year. When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a small family thing, sometimes with guests in the morning or early afternoon, a few paper decorations around the house, football, and just the four of us for supper, which was always a traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (that my Dad made), gravy, and pumpkin pie (again, from my Dad). With MKL, the family is sons and parents and sisters and nieces and grand-nieces – maybe 13 people. This will be the first year that Kelsea hasn’t been home for Thanksgiving. She’s staying in Washington and, I think, hosting other Thanksgiving “orphans” at her house. Perhaps I will coach her on cooking a turkey, as my Mother coached me, during countless phone calls, when I made my first one, which was just for my Dad and me when I was a senior in college. We had Thanksgiving dinner on a coffee table on the red-shag carpeted floor of my little attic studio in a house long gone in Boulder. That was a very happy Thanksgiving.

In these times of political turmoil in our country, it is nice to have an occasion to try to bring families together. Our differences are so intense, and in some cases, unforgiveable, that togetherness may not be possible for everyone. Politics today is not something that just matters during elections – and while that has never been the case, we have been passive in our approach to it, up until now, when many are finding the need to exercise their freedom to speak and finding their voices. I hope that all individuals can find something to give thanks for this week, regardless of our differences.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The most important political office is that of private citizen.” — Louis D. Brandeis

Daily gratitudes:
Doing the right thing
My current read
A hot bath
A beautiful day
The cooing of iridescent pigeons

We did park ourselves here for one night, but it wasn’t always set, and it was rather windy. Still an unbeatable view.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Please don’t disillusion me. I haven’t had breakfast yet.” — Orson Scott Card

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
That I’m strong enough to break dead tree limbs
Blue skies
Snuggles
Big Fish

 

This seat is probably hot in many ways. a) It’s in Snead’s Ferry, right on the river,  b) It’s right outside the kitchen window of this restaurant, which means the heat from the kitchen is pouring out upon the sitter, and c) it’s pleather. in the sun. We’ve all been in the hot seat from time to time, and at least this one does occasionally have a cool breeze to stir the hot hair straggling on the back of your neck in the depths of July. Looks like that beer (and the rain puddles) might have helped cool the occupant off a bit too.

The Hot Seat
Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “A man who goes into a restaurant and blatantly disrespects the servers shows a strong discontent with his own being. Deep down he knows that restaurant service is the closest thing he will ever experience to being served like a king.” — Kriss Jami

Daily gratitudes:
Feeling better
Ice water
A letter from LJRH
That I get to see my husband tomorrow
How lovely it is to say “husband”

A light(ish) shared lunch of collard greens, iced tea, and chocolate peanut butter pie was a little pricey and a little yummy. Russell’s Smokehouse on Larimer Street in Denver is a front for Wednesday’s Pie and the Green Russell speakeasy.  The smell of barbeque is delectable, and they have their own homemade hot sauces, of which this was one, on the table.

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.”  —  Alex Tan

Daily gratitudes:
Herds of cows when they have their heads together plotting
How awesome Kelsea looks in her black cocktail dress
Big oranges
Mustaches
That particular green in the trees that means spring is here.

One of my favorite spontaneous questions to ask is, “You can pick anything, from anywhere in the world – what would your last meal be?”  It takes people aback and it makes them think about the best taste or the best emotion that they have attached to food.  I’ve found that people truly are divided into two camps – the ones who focus on tastes that struck them as orgasmic, and the ones who focus on sentimental foods that their mother made.  Perhaps that’s partly dependent on how good a cook one’s mother was.

(bottom image courtesy of www.jgfreedman.com)

Now, for me, if I were on death row and they had to get me whatever I wanted, they’d need some notice, as they’d have to fly some dishes in.  And I tell you, I’d be an absolute glutton.

My last meal would consist of (as a start):

Fresh Mango

Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer from the Blue Crab Lounge in Chicago

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich from the Crab Pot in Surf City, NC

Seafood Pasta from Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke

Fried Clam Strips from the Breezeway, Topsail Beach, NC

Guacamole and Chips from Zamas in Tulum

My very own Better Than Sex Soup  (they’d have to give me access to a kitchen)

My Mother’s Country Style Steak (though she’d have to be resurrected to make it, since neither I nor E-Bro have quite gotten it to turn out like hers)

Biscuits and Gravy from Dot’s Diner in Boulder

Shrimp and Grits from the Pink House in Savannah

Kentucky Fried Chicken (original recipe)

(Extra) Pepperoni Pizza from Pizza Colore in Boulder

Key Lime Pie from Rhymer’s in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes from a now-defunct Chicago restaurant whose name escapes me

A Butternut candy bar

Coconut water straight from the coconut

Veuve Clicquot (Orange Label) Champagne

Special Label Mojitos (it’s okay if I get drunk for my last meal, you know)

Apparently, it’s also okay if I go to the chair weighing 300 pounds.  They’ll just need to be sure that Old Sparky is extra-sturdy.

I’m sorry not to have a curry on the list, but I haven’t yet found one worthy.

A few notable last meals received (which, in reality, are not always what was requested):

Dobie Gillis Williams (Louisiana): Twelve candy bars and some ice cream.

James Edward Smith (Texas): requested a lump of dirt (request denied).

Odell Barnes (Texas): Justice, Equality, World Peace (request denied).

Philip Workman (Tennessee): He asked that a large vegetarian pizza be delivered to a homeless person in Nashville, but the prison denied his request.  However, many in the Nashville area fulfilled it.

Ricky Ray Rector (Arkansas): Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie — which he did not eat, because he said he was saving it for later.

Victor Feguer (Iowa): requested a single olive with the pit still in.

If you’re interested in the actual last meals of death row inmates, you can find them here: http://deadmaneating.blogspot.com/.  Morbid, but fascinating.

And for lighter fare, check out My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea and Last Suppers: If The World Ended Tomorrow, What Would Be Your Last Meal? by James Dickerson, both available at www.amazon.com.

But in reality, very few of us get to cherry-pick our last meals.

My paternal grandmother died at age 90.  The last few months of her life, she ate almost nothing.  Except she still loved chocolate.  My parents tried to get her to eat something healthy, but at some point they asked themselves “Why?” and gave up the fight.  She was 90 years old, for heaven’s sake, let her eat what she wants.  And so she did.

I cared for my Mother in her last 10 days or so, and could get her to eat very little, as much as I tried to tempt her.  But during her last few days, it was so difficult for her to swallow, she wanted nothing but Dibs – those little chocolate-covered ice cream nuggets that she could melt in her mouth, and then, finally, on the last two days, nothing but orange sherbet.  She loved it.  When she couldn’t really find the right words, she would just waggle her tongue at me to feed her a spoonful, and then sigh with pleasure.  It’s a nice memory.

I hope my last meal doesn’t come too soon.  There’s a lot of world to eat out there.  But next time you feel the dinner party/first date conversation flagging, try the question – it’ll make everybody think.

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