Giving Thanks

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The daughter of a very good friend has been making daily posts to Facebook this month, expressing gratitude for one thing every day. It’s very inspiring.

So is this:

So now there’s Science telling us that expressions of gratitude are the Fast Track to Happiness.

I’ll bite.

So here’s what I’m grateful for this Thanks-Giving.  In no particular order.

I’m thankful for what has to be the World’s Best Horse Husband, who understands that giving presents to the horse is giving presents to me, and says things like “I think that Huey ought to have regular massages.”

I’m thankful for Huey.  I always, always, ALWAYS wanted a horse.  And while the Horse Of My Dreams was shiny and clean and happy and always sound and made a special noise any time he (or she) saw me and we would ride for hours on rainbows…the Horse I Have has the personal habits of a hog, and is accident-prone and seems always to be on the DL and picks fights with the other horses and is about as Imperious as you get and is perfectly comfortable totally ignoring my presence unless he thinks I might have a treat…I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  And not just this world, which has been getting pretty dodgy of late, I wouldn’t even trade him for a Better World.

On that subject, I’m thankful for my barn owner, who lives right there with Huey, and puts up with all his crap, including his Imperious Attitude, his fits of temper when Some Other Horse Gets To Eat/Go Into The Barn/Go Out Of The Barn BEFORE HIM, cribbing, and filth-generation, and still seems to love him almost as much as I do.

I’m thankful for my cat Buster, in the last hour at least, when he’s been cuddly.  I’m not so thankful for his late-night zooming around the house, and I’m definitely not thankful that his favorite place to sleep is on my ankles or knees, which makes my back hurt.  I am, however, thankful that at Age 10 he still acts like a kitten.  And he has really amazing fur.  And I’m extremely thankful that when Animal Control brought him into the Dane County Humane Society in early 2004, badly damaged from a collision with a vehicle, the person on the receiving desk “had a feeling that he’d make a good pet” and decided to funnel him into medical care instead of sending him for a Merciful Release…which would have been totally understandable.

I’m thankful for my job, and especially thankful for my Department Head, the best manager I’ve ever had in my life.  He’s organized.  If you aren’t in Academia, you may not realize how rare an attribute that is.  I remember the first time I met the guy who would become my dissertation chair.  His office was bursting at the seams with cardboard boxes.  I said “Oh, you must have just moved offices” and he said “No, I’ve been here for years.  Why would you think that?”  And he was regarded as being Pretty Organized.  My department chair is incredibly organized, and – best of all possible worlds – he makes meeting agendas and then sticks to them, and he doesn’t call a physical meeting unless this is Absolutely Necessary.  Go ahead, talk to any college professor you might know, and just say one word to them:  “meetings”. It’s like that scene in Lion King where the hyena says “MUFASA” and everyone shudders.  Only no one in academia is ever going to say “Say that again!” about meetings.

I’m thankful for the town I live in, where people open their pockets freely to support Shelter Sunday to help the plight of the homeless and destitute.  I like living with people who care about what happens to other people, instead of living with people who blame those who have fallen on hard times for their misery.

I’m thankful for the trend I’ve seen over the last few years for marriage equality.  My own marriage doesn’t mean everything it could while people in loving, committed relationships are forbidden from having that commitment legally recognized.  Just say NO to Second Class Citizenship for anyone.

I’m thankful for my friends, who are spread out over the continent, and I’m actually thankful to Facebook for providing a venue where I can stay in contact with them much more easily than was possible previously. I’m thankful for the technology that has put me back into contact with people I’d lost touch with for decades.  I’m happy to have them back in my world again.

Of course, I’m thankful for the food on the table and the roof over my head and a car that starts when I turn the ignition key.

I’m thankful that circumstances led to my discovery of Skiing.  I’m thankful that I live an hour-fifteen from my ski hill.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to get to ski only five or six days per year.  I’m thankful for my Awesome Ski Gear, and I’m thankful that my ski hill is owned and operated by a family that cares about it, and cares about the employees, instead of just treating it like a cash cow and sucking money out of the local economy to line their personal pockets.  I would probably still ski there even if it were some kind of soulless corporate hell, but I’m deeply appreciative that it’s not.  I’m thankful, by the way, for their tremendous snowmaking capacity, which means that I’ll be able to go skiing over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I’m thankful for my near neighbors, who have a wood stove.  It means I get to have that wonderful Wood Smoke On The Cold Air experience…without having to deal with termite risk, tending the thing, or cleaning it out.

And I’m thankful for the entire State of Maine.  State of Vermont, too, while I’m at it.  Heaven on earth, and it’s only a few hours’ drive away.

I’m also thankful that I have the best pumpkin pie recipe on the planet.  And now you will, too.

Super Human Pumpkin Pie From Real Pumpkins

Makes 2 pies.

4 lbs pie pumpkin.  Do not use those honkin’ huge jack-o-lantern pumpkins.  The little ones are what you want here.
1¾ C sweetened condensed milk.  I know…but there really is no substitute, and you really can’t scale back on it.
2 eggs
1 t salt
Generous splash of vanilla extract
1 T raw sugar, or demerara sugar
pie crust for 2 crust pie
2 T flour
4 T raw sugar or demerara sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
2 T butter, cut into bits
1 C chopped pecans
1 C chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375.  Cut pumpkin in half, remove seeds and weeds, and cut into large chunks.  Grease a roasting pan, put the pumpkin chunks in it, skin-side up, and cover pan tightly with foil.  Roast 90 minutes, remove foil cover, and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Remove skins and let sit, or put in fridge, until totally cool.  It is essential that this pumpkin have no residual heat before proceeding.

Heat oven to 425. Put the pumpkin chunks into a food processor and blitz until completely pureed.  Add condensed milk and eggs, and whirl until combined.  Add salt and vanilla extract and 1T of the sugar.  Whirl until totally combined.  The whole thing should have the texture of custard by the time you are done with this step.

Pour into the pie shells and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the flour, remaining 4 T sugar, and cinnamon in the (cleaned) food processor and blitz until it’s the texture of breadcrumbs.  Stir into the nuts and mix it up well.  I usually have to use my hands for this step.

Take the pies out of the oven, turn the temperature down to 350, and sprinkle the topping over the pies.  Bake another 35 minutes.  Remove from oven, serve hot or cold or room temp.

The pie filling freezes beautifully, so I usually make it all even though I only want one pie at a time.  Freeze the rest, and pull it out for a Magic Zero Effort Pumpkin Pie later on.

Saturday Market

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About Lori Holder-Webb

I'm a Southern Woman by birth and a Texan Woman by upbringing...and yet I find myself living in New England and married to a New York City boy. Up here we use the same currency as we do at home, and I don't need to travel with a passport, but the commonalities pretty much end there. The language is different, the jokes are different, the people are different, and the weather and terrain sure are different too. I moved away from Texas in 2002, and ever since then, I've been the stranger in the strange land... I've had some questions about the name of the blog - if you were not alive, or living abroad or under a rock, or in grad school during the late 1980s, Oldsmobile attempted to shuck its stodgy image with a series of commercials intended to bring brand appeal to the younger generation: this car, they said, is not your father's Oldsmobile. If you have a morbid curiosity, hit YouTube for William Shatner Oldsmobile...it will take you right there.

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