Perhaps tomorrow I'll do some writing about Garrison Keillor and the events of yesterday that led to his firing and the disappearance of The Writer's Almanac. Or maybe I won't. I will say that while I was never a huge fan of A Prairie Home Companion (I liked a story line here or there, but much of it gave me a headache), I did appreciate all that he did for poetry, and he did a lot.
Today, one week after Thanksgiving, let me remember some highlights of our trip.
Things that were the same:
--We still go to Lutheridge, where we rent a huge house that can't be damaged by rambunctious children. We've been meeting there for over 20 years, so it feels like a homecoming to me.
--We cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, even though the kitchen is far from updated. The oven is very small (a turkey roaster that my cousin brings helps us get everything ready), and there's no dishwasher. Still, we manage just fine.
--There were football games in the back yard.
--We made numerous trips to Wal-Mart. Part of me still feels sorrow about the development that has sprung up around a camp that in my childhood was very isolated. Part of me recognizes how convenient it is to have the Wal-Mart right there.
--I did some quilting--I had a baby quilt to finish for a colleague who is pregnant and had a baby shower earlier this week.
--The ride was long, especially Interstate 95 in South Carolina where traffic slows for no apparent reason. But it was good to see different sights, especially the fall leaves, which were still brightly colored and on the trees. We don't always have an autumnal feast for the eyes like the one we had this trip.
--Lutheridge has a residential community of a few dozen houses. As always, we took walks, and I wondered what it would be like to live there. As always, yearnings bubbled up in me. They were fiercer this year, since we have made very little progress at repairing our hurricane damage back home.
--We went to Fletcher Park, an amazing regional park. This year, Frisbee golf was the attraction. And the dog park . . . which leads me to what was new.
What was new:
--My cousin's family has an adorable dog named Slugger, a Golden Retriever/Poodle mix. He's only 5 months old. He spent much of the time at the kennel where he stayed, but we spent some time with him each day.
--Most of us did a 5 K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It was in Hendersonville, a nearby town; the route took us through a lovely Main Street, a cemetery, and lots of gorgeous homes. I hung out at the back with my cousin and his two small sons. It was a low-key kind of event, the kind where you didn't even have to pay the entrance fee if you didn't want a t-shirt. Pets were welcome, and I don't think I've ever walked 3 miles with as many dogs. I was cold in the 31 degree weather, but not in a lot of pain. I felt relief about being able to complete the course. I need all the reminders that I can get that arthritis is manageable, and it doesn't necessarily lead to being completely disabled.
--On Thanksgiving night, I heard a commotion, just after I thought we had all turned in for the night. I was a little worried that someone had seen a rodent. I walked out, and one of the children said, "We found a cat!" Happily, the cat was in good shape, so we didn't have to figure out how to find a home for a stray. We gave the cat some milk, and said that we'd check back outside in 15 minutes to make sure the cat wasn't cold. By then the cat had disappeared.
--We went to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The mountains around Asheville, NC now house many breweries, a major change that we've witnessed. We didn't take a tour, in part because they were full, in part because it takes 90 minutes, and there's very little that would keep my interest for 90 minutes--certainly not manufacturing. But we did go to the tasting room and restaurant. There were only 4 brews of the 29 that my spouse had never tasted, so that was fun. I really enjoyed the food.
--We went to the brewery on Black Friday. I foolishly thought that everyone would be shopping--come to find out, it's one of their busier days. On Thursday night, we tried to get some Black Friday deals at Wal-Mart, where it was emptier than I expected, and while there were very good deals, I returned home with nothing.
--We finally had a chance to shoot off the rockets that my uncle created out of soda pop bottles. You put water in them, pump them with a bicycle pump, and then pull the string that pulls out the cork. It's a demonstration of one of the basic laws of physics, about actions and reactions. It amazed us all, from the youngest to the oldest.
In short, it was wonderful to be together, well worth the long car trip. I am grateful that we still make the effort.
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