I sat at a table round today and ate like a king in these desperate economic times. I helped her prepare the meal - turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green peas, sweet tea. She was thankful for this day, this Thursday, and for the people at the table round: our son who ate his turkey-leg like a man, our middle-daughter who made place cards for us all, our youngest who ate nothing but butter and rolls, and me. Before we started eating, we lit a candle and held hands and I read from the Book of Common Prayer and they chimed in Lord, we thank thee. She's leaving Monday to spend the week with her dad; he's having some major surgery next week. I will miss her, more than she knows. I, too, was thankful for this day, this Thursday.
The last minute dessert, razzleberry pie, took 75 minutes to cook, so we had time to catch the end of Miracle on 34th Street, the old black and white version. It's the story of a gentle soul with a beard who did some fairly miraculous things and was patient as people progressively came to believe he was who he said he was. Oh, and he just loved children. It's doesn't make a lick of sense to me how some folks can gush all over Aslan and then pitch a conniption fit over anything Santa.
The razzleberry pie was topped with vanilla ice cream and washed down with coffee. It was worth every one of the 75 minutes we waited and every one of the 150 times the kids opened the oven door to see if it was ready.
I finished Jim Harrison's Farmer around 3:30pm. I've about decided that Harrison is one of the true master storytellers of our time.
As the black of dusk began to descend, white snow began falling.
The national news report began with scenes of death in India. The man's face was covered with bright red blood and our son said Dad, look at that. I did. Our local news broadcast showed scenes of bleachers full of teary-eyed wives and restless children, all waving American flags, all waiting for their soldier's safe return.
After the evening news, she sat on the couch with our oldest two watching This is Jeopardy! Our youngest asked me if I'd read with her, so we both got in our sleeping bags in her bedroom floor and she read Rabbit's New Rug to me, complete with sound effects and character voices. After the end, I said hey, wanna make some crescent rolls with me? She beat me to the kitchen. We popped the can and tore apart the perforated dough and rolled them tightly like snooty pastry chefs. After 13 minutes at 375 degrees, we pulled them from the oven and let butter run down their hips. So, for our youngest, both meals today, lunch and dinner, consisted of butter and rolls.
Our kids all wanted to sleep in the den tonight. I'm not sure why, but I'm not sure it matters. As I turn off the lights, one is on the floor in a Wiggy bag, one is in the recliner, one is on the couch, and the Beagle is in the club chair. It's still snowing outside.
She didn't want to sleep in the den tonight. Me neither. So, I joined her in our flannel-sheeted bed and we borrowed our son's TV and watched Shopgirl as the snow stopped falling. The narrator, Steve Martin, begins the film with these words: Mirabelle Buttersfield moved from Vermont hoping to begin her life. And now she is stranded in the vast openness of LA. She keeps working to make connections, but the pile of near misses is starting to overwhelm her. What Mirabelle needs is an omniscient voice to illuminate and spotlight her and to inform everyone that this one has value, this one standing behind the counter in the glove department and to find her counterpart and bring him to her.
The narrator's voice concludes the film with these words: As Ray Porter watches Mirabelle walk away he feels a loss. How is it possible, he thinks, to miss a woman whom he kept at a distance so that when she was gone he would not miss her. Only then does he realize that wanting part of her and not all of her had hurt them both and how he cannot justify his actions except that... well... it was life.
I do not want part of this life. No, I want all of it.
It just started snowing again.