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November 26, 2020

As this pandemic year wearily slogs on to an end, everybody and his brother (most everybodies) had a weird Thanksgiving and we’re all now imagining and reinventing pandemic Christmases as that holiday is now, ugh, upon us.

“Impending calamity,” “surges on top of surges” are ways infectious disease doctors are characterizing where we are at this moment. We absolutely need to think and rethink our plans. There is a tug and pull of trying to stay connected to gratitude and love, to preserve the joy, while completely accepting that this is not a normal time and playing by rules we all must honor in order to get as safely as possible to the other side. There will be another side.

Thanksgiving, was therefore that mix… accommodating the virus and the guidelines while still trying to find the gratitude, love and joy.

First the connection part.

Peter’s not with us. That is incredibly disappointing. But we could talk and we knew he was with friends — being safe and being loved. Here’s his weather.. a pic he sent a couple days ago:

And here’s the celebration Peter had with Lisa and Claire — forever grateful for their efforts to make him feel welcome in Ann Arbor. They’ve been so loving and caring and just amazing.

Back here in sunny Davis California, I exchanged lots of texts with friends, had multiple conversations with Peter, Matty and Betsy, and ZOOMED with the whole immediate Frame family contingent (minus Maia, Hope and Tanner) at 3:00.

It was an hour of cacophonous Frames from California to Idaho to Montana to Michigan. All three Jim Frame sibs, all five Dean Frame sibs (plus Dean!) and *almost* all kids. Quite the feat. That would never happen in real life, so this pandemic-imposed separation, necessitating Zoom connections is quite brilliant. What would we do without video conferencing this year?

Then, at 8:00, we Zoomed with the Peterson sibs and Peter. This time California north and south, plus Michigan and Thailand. Missed Michael, missed John/Alexis and clan, but otherwise it was good to get the four of us sibs and a couple of our loves together.

Earlier in the day I went for a long walk. For part of it, I was listening to Brene Brown interviewing Dolly Parton. She’s a lovely woman who sounds remarkably like Aunt Bonnie. That took me down a lot of family rabbit holes. The creek supplied a spectacular backdrop for my rambling mind.. the sunny skies made the colors at the arboretum really pop.

The gingkos are hemorrhaging their leaves:

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be planting one in our backyard?

It was just so pretty down there.

Here’s one of the gingkos from across the lake.

Even B Street walking home looked gorgeous (this is across the street from one of my first apartments in town):

And A Street looks nice this time of year, too!

After my walk, and in between the Zoom calls, Jim and I cooked. Since it was just the two of us, it made sense to downsize the menu. Jim found a clever idea in the New York Times–a One Pan, One Pot Thanksgiving Dinner. A bit gimmicky, but fun to try! And hey.. we did the whole thing together, step by step, which I loved.

First thing in the morning, I set up the turkey to marinate. We’d never cooked a turkey breast before. If you never have, it actually feels like a big boob (not that I would know) — it’s soft and squishy.

Here’s the stuff for the marinade — grated garlic, fresh thyme and s/p:

Hours later, we slathered it in mustard and mayonnaise (yep) and then wrapped it in bacon. I’ve since learned that most people, when wrapping a turkey breast in bacon, do it in a very showy basket weave (google it!), which I’ll definitely do next time. Here’s what ours looked like (kinda disgusting, no?):

But then it comes out like this.. totally appetizing:

And carved like a dream:

My first comment at first bite was, “wow, it’s fantastic and so moist!” Jim’s was “hmmm… so dry.” So, I’m not sure if it was moist or not, but I *think* we both liked it and would try it again.

The other components of the meal were fine… the stuffing was standard and fine; the cranberry sauce was good; the gravy went a bit south, but was good enough. But there were two other standouts:

The menu called for Brussels sprouts, which neither of us likes, so we substituted cauliflower, using the same treatment, which was simple but fantastic. Olive oil, salt and some coriander powder, roasted with the turkey/bacon and its drippings. Yeow.

Also, this:

It’s baked garnet yams, that, when soft (about an hour) you added this — a mash of butter, molasses, salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Oh, and marshmallows. You put it back into the oven to melt all that into the potatoes. omg.

And that was it. It took exactly three hours to prepare, and exactly ten minutes to eat. As usual. Jim then made some whipped cream and we had both pecan pie and my weird pumpkin pie (which turned out fine!).

It was a nice day. The connections and reflections and cooking project were all mightily felt and appreciated. What I think will stand out most will be how we responded to an absolutely unique and dangerous time. We’ll get to the other side and life will return to something a lot more normal and predictable. It’s been a tragedy of just immeasurable pain, inconvenience, loss all over the world. We’re all in this, we’re all impacted, we’re all dealing.

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