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November 25, 2010

The right song for the wrong time of year
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:45 AM * 172 comments

Thanksgiving has generally been, for me, a tremendously ill-timed holiday.

By late November, I’ve rarely been in the mood for thankfulness. My SAD is usually in full effect, and I’ve generally had at least one serious depressive episode by then. To manage it, I have to live a careful, constrained life: it’s unwise to stay up late, drink, or skimp on time in front of the light box. And still I’m conscious of a tremendous diminution of myself. Winter Abi is simply not as intelligent, as energetic, as pleasant to be around as Summer Abi. It’s like being the lackluster younger sibling at school. Everyone expects better because they know the bright one.

But, you know, people grow up, even me. A lot of my views on SAD are based on a deep resentment of it. And while that’s completely natural, it’s also entirely unproductive. Hating it is hating an inextricable part of myself, and that never ends well. So I’m working on that, looking for the good (a definitionally difficult task).

What I notice, when I manage to take a break from resentment and despair, is how much I appreciate the small, simple things when I can’t reach for the big ones. Going to bed every night, settling into the mattress in the dark, curled around my teddy bear*, looking forward to sleep. Reading Making Light in front of my light box in the early morning, before the household is awake. The cycle ride to work in the chilly air, with the bare trees reaching for the painfully clear sky. Wearing worn gloves, because it feels good to be thrifty rather than buying new ones. Shared jokes with my colleagues, small triumphs, kindnesses and luck in the working day. Hot tea. Crisp apples. The way the water looks as I walk beside it at lunchtime; I could watch it for hours. The ferry ride across the IJ en route home, with that subtle feeling that everyone on the boat with me is part of a secret, ephemeral community. The shape of Martin’s shoulders glimpsed through the kitchen window as I arrive at the house. The smell of my children’s hair, the sound of their voices, the feel of their arms around me.

In the summer, I think, pleasures come cheap and easy. I become glutted with them, and the simple ones can’t compete with the vast flood of potential, the lure of everything I can do because I have a year’s worth of energy and enthusiasm compressed into the light months. I think in great grand sweeps and forget the details.

But, you know, when I look at the actual things that I enjoy in the summer, it’s more of the same: the immediate things, like waking up, cycling to work, eating good food, and seeing my family. I just lose the value of them in the rush, the same way that someone with twenty pairs of shoes appreciates the twenty-first much less than they did the second.

So maybe now, when joys are small and dear, is the right time for Thanksgiving.

(In any case, here it is upon us. Have a good one, those who celebrate it, and raise a glass to absent friends.)

* Yep. A large, soft Gund named Ursula. Wanna make something of it?

Comments on The right song for the wrong time of year:
#1 ::: MacAllister just forgot to change her name back ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Sometimes I think we're at our most noble, our most human, when we're facing those day-to-day challenges that are individually nearly overwhelming in their immediacy and imperviousness...while simultaneously all but invisible in their mundanity: a life of quiet desperation isn't, so much as it's a life of subtle-but-incandescent heroism?

#2 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:05 AM:

I don't know WHY Google Chrome won't remember that I've changed my name back, darn it...

#3 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:50 AM:

Here's something to be thankful for: Tom DeLay convicted on money-laundering charges.

At least once, it's been held NOT to be okay when a Republican does it.

#4 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 03:48 AM:

The cycle ride to work in the chilly air, with the bare trees reaching for the painfully clear sky.

What I like too, that crisp, cold feeling and the quick warming up you get cycling. Even better on a Saturday morning, when I can stop and pause on the sluice over the local canal and be in the middle of Amsterdam and it's completely quiet.

But if you have SAD, boy are the Netherlands a bad place to be. If unlucky, you can look forward to dull, depressing grey days with no warmth, but no proper winter weather either from September until March or even April...

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 03:53 AM:

Martin @4:
But if you have SAD, boy are the Netherlands a bad place to be.

Thus speaks a man who has not spent many winters in Edinburgh. This is a notable improvement.

#6 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 04:07 AM:

We're in London and I've been getting depressed listening to the weather forecaster saying, as we eat breakfast, "the sun will rise at". But the small sunrise alarm clock I got a few weeks ago* does seem to be helping me get up in the mornings - I think it makes sure I'm not in deep sleep when the alarm goes off.

As for the cycle ride - yes, feels good, so long as ears are covered. Cycling with painfully-cold ears is misery.

*Battery powered, uses LEDs, comes on all at once, which is a minus, but there's no buzzing or click of a switch, which is a plus. The light doesn't wake me directly, although I'm trying to find a position so it doesn't disturb my husband (who is on the far side of the bed from the clock), because it may be waking him!

#7 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:29 AM:

Mmm. I spend winter feeling like I will never be warm and energetic, ever ever again. It is very reptilian. I spend a certain amount of time curled under cozy blankets, daydreaming about deserts and warm rocks and the feeling of sunlight baking my hair into place...

Though, if it must rain, I prefer that it rain dramatically, so I can be fully justified in spending a bare minimum of time outside the house, while wallowing in how cozy I am making myself inside.

#8 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:42 AM:

Just this morning, leaving the house before dawn, there was Venus near Spica, and a little higher, yellow old Saturn, and setting in the West, the just-past-full Moon. Quite beautiful, and I'd miss it all if I only got up with the Sun.

#9 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 06:14 AM:

I feel a deep sympathy for people who have winter SAD. Coming, as I do, from Stockholm, living in London does turn this on its head, though. For me, these days, the "dark, depressing part of the year" is the last few weeks of June and the first few of July, when the dark and gloom sets in FAR too early for sensible people.

They say the longer days during winter makes up for it, but I spend most of that time indoors, under artificial light, so I don't see it to be cheered up from it.

#10 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:50 AM:

And this would be the thread to ask: what's the Dutch name of the song that in English is "We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing" (tune Kremser)?

#11 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:51 AM:

I'm only just getting over my hindbrain's insistence that sunset means "time to pack it in for the day". 5:30PM is way too early for that....

But yes, family Amen! Entertaining sidetrack: Last night was a much-delayed multi-birthday dinner (my sis was buried in tenure-seeking work). One of the books I gave my youngest niece was a "Budgie" book by HRH the Duchess of York. (Budgie is an anthropomorphic helicopter....) Glancing at her article, I note that the book must have been published before her divorce, or thereabouts.

#12 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:24 AM:

I don't have SAD as such, and the days don't get all that short down here anyway (though we may have my least favorite weather, 40-degrees-F rain, at any time from October through April), but I tend to feel lonely and inadequate around the holidays. Having lost a good friend just 3 weeks ago makes it a lot worse. Thanks for the reminder to love what I have.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:42 AM:

abi... now, when joys are small and dear, is the right time for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and everybody else.
I'm hoping we'll be watching one or two turkey movies tonight. Luckily, we have an extensive MST3K collection.

#14 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 09:03 AM:

* Yep. A large, soft Gund named Ursula. Wanna make something of it?

Wouldn't dream of it, but when I saw the words curled around my teddy bear I immediately assumed you meant Martin.*

My daughter is with her mum today, which makes it just a little harder to focus on what I ought to be thankful for. And yes, it's harder still when most days I'm up well before sunrise at 5.30am, and 5.30pm is just as dark. And even more so that the most compelling case for what I ought to be thankful for these days - that the application of modern medicine for some 14 hours a week means I'm alive and largely functional rather than dead of anaemia and blood poisoning - is laden with causes for minor resentment at every turn and the pervasive feeling that my body is not my own.

My band has a gig tomorrow, in the friendliest house we play. I will be much more able to feel thankful then.

* This may be because I've never seen the gentleman.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 09:35 AM:

Today, when my alarm went off, I turned it off and lay in bed half-dreaming. I am glad of mornings like this, when the dark can envelope me again and I can go back to sleep (or as much sleep as Marjorie the Mistress of the Household will allow as she marches all over us to demand that she be fed and watered, or else).

My younger brother phoned at 8 this morning (1 p.m. his time) to wish me a happy Turkey Day, and to remind me that this weekend, of all weekends it is obligatory to call our mother, even though I phoned her last weekend. Nothing to do with Thanksgiving, much to to with the fact that Saturday will be the 91st anniversary of my father's birth; and he died nine years ago last week.

#16 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 10:25 AM:

I'm one of the rare ones for whom winter is more energizing than summer. Summer and its heat is to be endured, but in winter? Especially when I can perch at the top of a ski run and look out over the Cascades, or be wrapped in a heavy snowfall and look over at the next run and see ghostly shadows winding in and out of the trees....

Seriously, I'm more productive in the moods and gloom of a Pacific Northwestern winter than I am in the summer. I don't do well in heat and sun.

#17 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 11:06 AM:

"I'm hoping we'll be watching one or two turkey movies tonight. Luckily, we have an extensive MST3K collection."

What a fabulous idea. I'd never thought of them as "turkey" movies but that's exactly right.

I am thankful today for my family*, both the one I was born into and the more direct one I have now.

*Remember, family is not defined by DNA unless you want it to be.

#18 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 11:16 AM:

I'm clearly another reptile; once it gets cold I have the dreary feeling that I will never be warm again, and too much of my energy goes to trying to push the blood out to my extremities so none of them fall off. One thing I will say for San Francisco: this time of year is generally bright and brisk and autumnal in the clearest, sunniest way. That comes, of course, after a summer of fog and gloom, and in another month it will be the rainy season; not only does this town invest heavily in SAD, it plumps the weather down in the wrong times.

My large, squishy Gund bear, Geoffrey, sends trans-Continental greetings to Ursula. As does Vlad-a-Dog, the stuffed dog that came from somewhere and decided to stay. (I've got a stuffed fruitbat given to me by a co-worker some years ago, but it's not so much for the cuddling.)

I sometimes think the small, dear joys are the ones to cherish most.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 11:16 AM:

B Durbin @ 17... I associate their fare with Today's Fowl because I discovered MST3K when Comedy Central ran a marathon of their movies during 1991's Thanksgiving Day. I've been suggesting to my wife that we should watch "The Day The Earth Froze", but she says it's not wintry enough yet.

#20 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:32 PM:

I appear also to be somewhat reptilian -- I don't do at all well in the cold. Grey, foggy, and wet don't particularly disturb me (I find San Francisco fog enjoyable) but add cold and I am unhappy, though less unhappy if it's also brightly sunny. When I woke this morning the indoor thermostat thermometer said it was 50 degrees in the house. I've had the heat on for the last 2 and a half hours. The thermometer says it's 68 now.

I am thankful for so much; among that much is this Making Light community. May you be blessed with peace and light today and every day.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Lizzy L @ 20... It's with amusement that, when my in-laws, my wife and I were walking around Berkeley one January, one of my sisters-in-law described th weather as the Dead of Winter. I, being from the Great White North, was very amused by that.

#22 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 12:45 PM:

I like the crispness of autumn and winter. Put me down among those who find it harder to function in baking heat and find their energy returning as the temperature dips back down below 75F. Small things to be thankful for -- new recipes that turn out well are always a pleasure this time of year. The post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas rituals -- list-making, card-writing, party-planning, present-wrapping, decorating. And then the sense of regained space to breathe in January when all the decorations come back down. Being cozy inside with no place to go when the weather outside is particularly frightful. Warm feet.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Fragano, #15: Ah, one of life's small decadent pleasures: being able to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep! It's one of the few things I almost miss about having a day job.

#24 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 01:13 PM:

In my current workplace, I have a glass front door and a bay of windows almost directly in front of me. The glass being one-way, of course everything is tinted slightly gloomier than it is in fact, but it makes a huge difference to my outlook for the day, as, while I get a little direct sun in the morning, I leave past dark. (Sunset right now is, I think, 4:30 PM.)

It's also kinder to my fluorescent-hating eyes, and it gives me something long-distance to stare at when I start feeling computer strain. So it is much to be thanked for. (It helps that I like much of the rest of the place.)

Alas, the recent, frequent, and ongoing snow does rather work against my ability to go for walks outdoors on my break, but that's a small sorrow. (We went from fall to winter in ONE day. Even for Winnipeg, where fall tends to be abbreviated, that's abrupt.)

Small thankfulnesses are many, though. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Serge: "one or two turkey movies"

As distinct from "one or two movies which were turkeys," I assume.

Happy Poultry-of-your-Choice Day, everybody.

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Thankful for many things here as well -- family, human and not, chosen and not, and the light amusements of watching them interact. Having enough in the house so that driving in the snow isn't necessary.

The cats again seem amazed that I've actually learned enough from them to catch a large bird and bring it home. They're awaiting their chance to have a bit, but first I'm going to have to spoil it with the nasssty flames.

#27 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:14 PM:

I have a very hard time with winter. Here in DC, we get months on end of gray skies. I think it's the lack of sun that's the worst. My lightbox helps but isn't the same.

It's the joys that are peculiar to spring and summer (okay, and fall, but I hate the "everything's dying" feel of fall) that I miss most. The warmth, the light, the long days. Flowers and leaves and green. Enjoying the sunset as I drive home from work. Gardening. Enough light when I get home from work to get things done outside and not feel like it's time to go to bed at 6 pm. Eating outdoors. Reading outdoors. Most of all, though, it's light and blue skies I miss.

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:31 PM:

Many of the New Yorkers out there will understand why I'm watching what I'm watching after my noon dog walk:

Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers with Laurel & Hardy.

King Kong.

* * *

So maybe now, when joys are small and dear, is the right time for Thanksgiving.

This gets at something that annoys the heck out of me around this time of year. Starting around Halloween, actually. Something encountered on TV and in newspapers.

The healthy eating for the holidays fussbudget.

The Oregonian ran an article at the end of October describing which sorts of Halloween candy was healthiest, or at least the least-unhealthy.

And of course, now we're treated to articles about the kinds of Thanksgiving food we should be avoiding articles.


Look, I know there are folks who have to be careful about their diets 24/7/365.24. I know there are folks who scrupulously avoid meat; I can respect that.

But, sheesh. The purpose of a holiday feast is to enjoy, and perhaps overindulge, in rare treats. Not a time for some fussy micromanaging buzzkills to lean over you, in print or in person, and lecture about how many calories are in that stuffing, or that the high-fructose corn syrup cranberry jelly could throw your metabolism into a fatal tailspin.

The time to be careful, and the thing that requires real effort, are the other 362 days a year that we aren't in feast mode. Modern food distribution and preperation makes it cheap and easy to eat what are essentially "feast foods" every day. It is in the face of that where the moderation and vigilence needs to be spent.

Today, and on your other holidays . . . enjoy your feasts and your company. Turn on the lights and turn up the heat. Have an extra roll.

#29 ::: Ingrid ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:34 PM:

As one half of the cooking team, today, I am thankful for the small chunks of time where I can sit down and read Making Light. Also, I am thankful for my brother's dog, whose bottomless well of woebegone-ness (woebegonitude?) is hilarious. He will make out like a bandit at the dinner table tonight.

I, too, have a faithful Gund teddy bear. His name is Gandalf, and he sends warm greetings to Ursula and Geoffrey.

I wish everyone here a bundle of small moments of joy and contentment on this day of thanksgiving.

#30 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 8: Well if I could see stars like that it would be some compensation - I do love standing looking at a glorious star-spangled night sky - or even a glorious pre-dawn star-spangled sky. But not much chance where I live - too much light pollution, too many buildings cutting off sight of the lower sky.

Ingvar M @9: An interesting perspective - I've felt that as well when visiting e.g. southern Texas in summer - it just gets dark too early!

Lenora Rose @24: I work from home a lot aand I've got my desk facing the garden to encourage my eyes to change focal distance as a rest from staring at the laptop screen/papers. Nice seeing my bird feeders in use as well, of course.

And, Abi, thanks for the reminder to consciously appreciate the small joys of life.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Martin's smaller Gund, Orson, begs to be remembered to the assembled cuddly community.

And Martin raced home from work this evening, swept the kids up from after-school care, and managed to cook a roast chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, roast winter vegetables, green beans with fried onions, gravy and cranberry sauce before I got home from the office. That's right, I got a surprise Thanksgiving dinner. (I'm waiting on the apple pie and whipped cream until he comes home from climbing.)

Now, there is something to be thankful for.

#32 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 03:18 PM:

A surprise Thanksgiving dinner may be the most sublime thing I've ever heard of. Wow. I'm thankful on your behalf!

#33 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 03:29 PM:

Hurray for Martin! :) And a very happy Thanksgiving, Abi, and to all the fluorosphere inhabitants.

#34 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:31 PM:

dcb @ #30:

You just made me think briefly that a bird feeder here would be lovely. But alas, we're very much in an industrial area near a big-box shopping area, and though the few residential streets in the area are still elm-strong, the trees right here are few and far between (There's some lovely aspens up the street, and a number of "we don't want to look too industrial" front lawn cedars, but not enough for birds enough.) So I make do with my view of weather, traffic, and the hydro station. At least it's long focus.

Abi: Your Martin is clearly wonderful. What a splendid thing to come home to.

#35 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 05:44 PM:

OT, but when I got to the site today, I got malware warnings. The webmaster might want to check things out.

#36 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 06:33 PM:

My teddy bear Aubrey isn't a Gund (I made him myself), but he sends greetings to the Fluorospherical cuddly set, as well.

#38 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:06 PM:

Aubrey is lovely!

#39 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:19 PM:

I'm away from Tibault the Warthog (squeeze him and he grunts) but my mother's large cuddly collection sends greetings. Especially the cuddly bat. I'm staying with Bella Dogadovich (also cuddly, and agitating for a walk in the dark) in my parents' book-filled house. They've moved into assisted living because of my father's recent mental and physical decline. Of course they don't like it because it's not home. I took them to the Ft Belvoir officers club for Thanksgiving dinner -- a major undertaking but worth it . There were so many others there with walkers and wheelchair (and my age group beginning to use canes in noticeable numbers). Proud old men and women (my mother wore Army boots) dressed up for the occasion, young families with well-behaved children, and those of us in the middle being very patient.

#40 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Martin and surprise Thanksgiving dinner FTW!

#41 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:24 PM:

caffeine (38): Thank you!

#42 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Martin wins the internets for his Surprise! Thanksgiving Dinner.

I'm grateful for the time with my family and friends, and for the new friends I've been making this year. My parents are still healthy, my son is growing up and doing a great job interacting with his little cousins as well as with the grownups, and my Ex thanked me for the pumpkin pie I made for her family.

I'm another one who is energized in cooler weather -- the summer depresses me -- and I'm making more of an effort to do things around the house besides the routine chores (laundry, basic cleaning, the never-ending things).

I have a warthog, several rats, lots of bears, and a giant blue and green dog, but the company of my cats at night has helped keep the dark away. They also make sure I don't move around too much...

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Martin is clearly absolutely wonderful. That was truly thoughtful of him.

#44 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Ginger #42 Martin wins the internets for his Surprise! Thanksgiving Dinner.

Hmm... internets are so devalued these days. I'd think that win actually rates a Real World™!

My Thanksgiving dinner was unsurprising but comfy. I might get to show my twin nieces around "my" bookstore tomorrow (my local sister's three may or may not join in).

#45 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 10:14 PM:

It's been a quiet Thanksgiving here. Me, the cat and the ferrets. Husband's visiting family; a friend and I vend at Darkover every year, so I stay in town. It's nice to have one quiet holiday every year, though.

#46 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2010, 11:33 PM:

We had a lovely vegetarian Thanksgiving with our Marxist friends. The only downside was having to leave our dogs for the afternoon; but they were happy to get treats when we got home.

The weather warmed up a bit during the day, and it looks now as if we're not going to get freezing rain tonight, which will make tomorrow morning more pleasant than expected, as long as we stay far away from anything remotely resembling a Black Friday sale.

#47 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:03 AM:

Thanks for everyone for sharing. Abi, it sounds as if you did have a fulfilling (if somewhat dark outside) Thanksgiving.

My two most faithful stuffed friends are a donkey and zebra, they have what I think is Kapok or excelsior inside them (I've had to repair a few sutures from time to time), they 're exactly one hand a their withers each, and I've had them since the Kline's Christmas Fairy gave them to me, two years apart, when I was a bitty child.

They were with me through many hospital visits, through thick and thin, and when mom found them at the house I was overjoyed. They are both watching over my desk as we speak.

They are very small, they were not meant to be slept with, but I have a giant pillow now.

I also still have more soft toys than a childless woman in her 50s should rightfully have. I've thinned the herd a couple of times and may do so one more big time as I reduce my office/bedroom a bit further to be more functional.

I think the books are a bit more in danger, there are some I can sell and some i'm just going to take to 1/2 price and hope for the best.Doc Savage? Some Tarzan? John CArter? some other oddities of Burroughs? let me know what you want, we can deal.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:06 AM:

We had lunch at the home of one of my wife's friends, whose hubby is an engineer for Acme. Really.

#49 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:13 AM:

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

#50 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:22 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @47 -- some of the late Doc Savage books are quite valuable now, so don't let any of the multiple volumes (two to four stories in one volume) go without checking on them first. And of course, early Burroughs hardcovers in jacket are very very valuable these days.

#51 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Our stuffed animals on the bed have never been bears*; we generally go for variants on lions and tigers, though there's also a heavy raccoon who's nominally a heating pad if you want to put him in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Most cats we've had have understood that toy animals are primarily pillows for cats to sleep on, and some of them also like to knead on them. But one of our two current cats was a rescue cat we got when he was about four years old and 20 pounds, and the first time he encountered the housecat-sized tiger on the bed, he freaked out. It was way too deep in The Uncanny Valley for him, and he had to slink over, stare at it, sniff, and poke it a couple of times before deciding it was fake and could be safely ignored. We also had a toy cheetah from a local big cat education society, which purrs when squeezed, and he's worn it out. It's not replaceable, having been made in one batch by some now-defunct Chinese toy maker, but the sound recording is one of their cheetahs. At some point I've got to see if I can replace the microswitch.

* My brother's bear Gummy would probably say hi, if he's reading this.

#52 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:29 AM:

Speaking of SAD, does anybody have any recommendations about blue LED lights? I remember somebody a year or two mentioning one from Target or Amazon that was about $50, which was either great or useless, but looking on ML for light, or blue, or seasonal, or targets, or things being led has just taken my down many different rabbit holes of remembered conversations.

#53 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:20 AM:

Lenora Rose, #34, I had a bird feeder on my porch for a long time until the development made all of us take ours down. There's no big trees here, just bushes, but birds really know where to find seed.

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:27 AM:

Stefan, #28: This reminds me of the last "holiday dinner" I had with my father and Millie (he remarried a few years after my mother died) before I moved here. It was, IIRC, a Thanksgiving dinner.

- Skinless chicken breasts rolled in a "batter" of crushed cornflakes and skim milk and baked
- Unseasoned, boiled green beans
- Instant mashed potatoes made with skim milk, also unseasoned
- Instant dinner rolls with non-fat margarine
- Canned cranberry jelly
- Frozen pumpkin pie with non-fat whipped topping.

It should be fairly obvious that this was their idea of "eating healthy" by avoiding any vestige of fat or salt like the plague. Unfortunately, they had never bothered to learn how to cook a tasty low-fat, low-salt meal; they simply removed the main flavoring ingredients without adding anything else to replace them. I had to go across town to a friend's "orphan dinner" in order to get some food with actual flavor.

I look at that list of ingredients, and even though I'm not much of a cook, I can see a lot of possibilities for a decent meal. A little onion, a little garlic, a nice sauce for the chicken instead of pseudo-breading, don't try to pretend that it's fried... it might actually have a few fat grams in it, though I think I could get by without using salt -- and if you can't splurge just a little on a holiday, when can you? The sterility of the whole thing just makes me sad.

abi, #31: You are well-loved, and I rejoice for you and Martin both.

I don't sleep with stuffed animals, but I have a surprising number for someone who doesn't think of them as a collection. I have 3 or 4 sizes of white tiger, several winged cats, a Cthulhu, and one that was supposed to be a Siamese cat, but the dye batch must have been bad -- instead of the points being brown, they're a dark olive green. This last just happened to match up with a long-ago game character, so of course I grabbed it with squeals of glee!

#55 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I have many things to be thankful for, especially medical science. I'm fine, perfectly healthy, thank you, in this time line. In the low tech time lines this was the year I didn't make it. Thank you to everyone who labored to collect the data and test the hypotheses so we could have science instead of darkness, and thank you to everyone who supported them and made it possible.

#56 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:31 AM:

Turkey Movies

When doing the 'talking about seasonal festivities' chapter in the textbook, my Spanish professor☂ sort of blew our tiny American minds. We were listing things about each holiday in various categories: the food you eat, the decorations appropriate to the occasion, who you would traditionally celebrate it with, and the usual entertainments enjoyed at such a party.

When it came to the entertainments column for Thanksgiving, we American-borns suggested eating, conversation, board games, and watching football games on TV. Under her prompting that we were missing something, someone did offer watching the Macy's parade.

However, from the point of view of non-Americans (who are largely, according to mi profesora, familiar with the holiday through watching American movies), the PRIMARY entertainment at ANY family Thanksgiving gathering is DEFINITELY getting to watch your family members bicker with each other while drunk. :->

Stuffed Companions

The only stuffy of mine☀ that regularly lives near my bed of late has been sadly neglected. She is a large (fairly anatomically accurate, given the limitations of the medium) and very squishy hippo from IKEA, originally purchased to snuggle with during my largest portions of gestation, and also to wedge under various body parts to make sleeping easier.

Her name is Gertrude. I saw the bin of hippos at the store, and was instantly charmed by them; not only because of their absolutely adorably hippo-like faces☑, but because I'd been calling myself a hippo for weeks at that point, so it was quite appropriate in a totemic sense.

She is still very cuddly, but I feel less need for her of late. We do plan a (currently hypothetical) Sibling-To-Be-Named-Later, so she may well do yeomanlike service again in such an endeavor.

My childhood One True Cuddle Object was a fairly large stuffed boxer dog (with a flat pillowlike body and a leg at each corner and head and tail at the ends). I do not currently have snuggle-access to Boxer, because in a fit of adolescent idiocy, I decided the best way to proooooove I didn't have sibling rivalry was to give him to my baby sister when she was born. I was 13, which is the perfect age to think this was a good idea. By the time I hit 20 and regretted it, not only was he firmly entrenched, he'd already been passed on to my SECOND sister, who still has him.

She's going into the Marines next summer, though, so I need to make sure she knows who gets custody next. :->


☂ "Me llamo Marta; shoy de Barthelona." English is at least her third language, her first two being Catalan and Castilian, in that order.

☀ I am leaving out the stuffed toys in our household that nominally belong to either my dogs or my daughter; I mostly don't cuddle those when I'm falling to sleep.

☑ I mostly found the very accuracy of hippo-like-ness adorable ... hippo faces in general, though appealingly endearing, are rather too odd to be properly adorable to me. Gertrude is definitely adorable, though. If only to me. :->

#57 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:12 AM:

We have Big Kitty,who sees occasional use as a body pillow, back prop, or snuggle object. The smaller cat is Gremlin, our organic 8:00 AM alarm clock. (Whether we want him to be or not)

In my youth, I had a plush stuffed alligator. One of our cats back then had an embarassingly erotic interest in it. It was, umm, educational. This was years before Niven introduced the term "rishathra" in the Ringworld books.

At one time, Hilde and I had a fake-fur bedspread that coincidentally had a close similarity to the fur color and patternation of one of our cats. The first time we put it out on the bed, that cat, Sir Kay, looked at it, and you could see his eyes widen in horror, and it was easy to imagine a thought balloon forming above his head: "DADDY???"

#58 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:32 AM:

Serge @ 21: I'm currently in Mountain View.
I expressed yesterday morning - after breaking the ice on the birdbath at the place we are petsitting - that it had perhaps not been entirely wise to wander outside barefooted to tend to the chickens, as my toes had gotten cold.

I am not sure Terry's reaction to this can be textually expressed.

Abi @ 31: Yay surprise Thanksgiving dinner! I had one of those too: Terry piled me onto the back of the bike today (after making amazing pancakes for breakfast) and we swooped our way up some of the prettiest twisties I've seen in a good long time, to Alice's Restaurant where we did indeed have, after cocoa to thaw our fingers and toes and in exchange for a donation to the local food bank, a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat.

We left about half an hour after they closed, due to socialising in the parking lot, at which time the staff had, I swear I am not making this up, put on The Song and were standing behind the bar having a well-earned drink and singing along.

But that's not what I came here to talk about today. I ended up sitting in the booth right by the entrance, with my back about twelve inches from the door, and gusts of cold air blowing in periodically...

And in conclusion?

Terry Karney: Best. Boyfriend. EVER.

#59 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:34 AM:

I spent today being thankful that I quit my job yesterday. We had dinner with the family of a former co-worker that has adopted us for feast times, and my grandmother's macaroni and cheese recipe went over well. Tomorrow we get to go to the Louisiana Renaissance festival, where I hope to have my son knighted by Queen Elizabeth I.

I am also invigorated by fall, at least here, where I spend the entire summer trapped indoors because the heat and humidity make it hard to breathe outside. But I struggle with the lack of daylight as well, and I hated leaving work when it was already dark, feeling that the entire day was wasted, and it was too late to do anything productive. Luckily, that won't be a concern, but I am a little worried that Stefan's naps usually end after 5, and it's going to be increasingly hard to wake him up since it's dark, and then get him back to sleep again before midnight.

#60 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 02:42 AM:

Paula Helm Murray #47: I also still have more soft toys than a childless woman in her 50s should rightfully have.

According to who? Enjoy your herd!

Lee #54: My sympathies on that dinner. Someone should tell those folks that both spices and flavorful vegetables are dietetic plusses! (Only one kind of vegetable on the table?✿ Horrors!)

Bruce Arthurs #57: LOL! (And my kitty is also named Gremlin.)

I might have a few stuffed animals still in moving crates, but most of them got given away to various younger relatives. My childhood teddy-bear got passed on to my sister, and possibly thence to one of her kids.

✿ Instant mashed potatoes do not count as a vegetable. ;-)

#61 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:26 AM:

I've acquired two important stuffed animals in my adult years: (1) Mr Tapir (Malayan, i.e. black & white), because I saw him on a shelf just begging me to bring him home, and they had really got the nose and face right for a tapir so I had to get home;(2) Fishface, a penguin with a fish in its mouth*, which I sometimes use as a prop when giving a lecture on oiled wildlife response. Before husband and cats, Mr Tapir was very important for cuddling to get to sleep; now he mostly lives on the bedroom chair (as does Fishface).

Bruce Arthurs: Gremlin is beautiful. Our cat thankfully allows us to sleep a bit later than 8am at weekends, but if we sleep too long she gets anxious: "Humans? Humans been comatose too long. Come on humans, time to get up and fuss kitty." Pad, pad, pat, pat.

* Yes, I know, my stuffed toy naming is not very imaginative.

#62 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 05:39 AM:

Many years ago, well, about ten let us say, I moved into a house in a small Midlands town. There was a garden shed, which I explored, and found a plastic bag containing children's clothes and toys. I washed them, and, being childless, donated most to friends and charity shops in the town. Among the toys was a small, blue teddy, with whom I instantly fell in love. As the house was on Norman Avenue, he became known to me as Edward, Lord Norman of the Shed. He enjoys sitting in a miniature plastic deckchair, from which he sends an imperious wave and lordly greetings to all fluorospherical cuddlies.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:02 AM:

Turkey movies... The Discovery Channel had a 2-hour special hosted by the MythBusters about the East Coast's Punkin' Chunkin' festival so there wasn't much time after that for turkey-watching. We were able to pop in MST3K's DVD of various short films though. My favorite remains "Mister B Natural" about the Spirit of Music appearing in a teenager's bed room and teaching him about the pleasures of playing instruments. The fact that the 'male' spirit had breasts and curvy hips went unnoticed by the boy.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:04 AM:

Marna Nightingale @ 58... Will you still be around the week before Christmas - for example, on the evening of December 23? I hope we can meet, either in Mountain View - or maybe at Oakland's Breads of India if you and others want to.

#65 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:42 AM:

Lee @ #54: yesterday we were talking on our car ride to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house, about the "meal in a pill" trope found in The Jetsons and elsewhere. We were wondering, "Who regards eating as a chore to be gotten through as fast as possible?"

Now we know. My condolences, and may all your meals be better than that one.

("The food is oven-fresh, spotless and tasteless; untouched by human hands. I remembered with an ache certain dishes in France and Italy touched by innumerable human hands." --John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley)

#66 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 10:30 AM:

I seem to have lesser than usual (for a Finn) fortitude for the dark, and greater than usual for the cold. I'm usually pretty awake during daylight (which was for 6 hours and 43 minutes today, and getting shorter) even in the winter, but the dark gets at me steadily worse until March or so.

But now that it's actually cold and we have snow, I really prefer to spend what limited daylight there is in the great room with the blue ceiling and yellow light. With southern Finland climate you never know when it will melt. Could be tomorrow, could be middle of April.

I don't have stuffed toys myself. The more social one of our cats makes a point of always being in the same room, and if we're sleeping, on the same bed. With attempts on being on the same pillow. I don't quite know how he notices when we change rooms, as he's asleep at the time, but he follows along pretty consistently.

#67 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Paula Helm Murray (47): I also still have more soft toys than a childless woman in her 50s should rightfully have.

I resemble that remark. Aubrey's just the one on my bed. My entire living room is slowly sinking under the weight of stuffed animals.

#68 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Isbjorn the Ikea polar bear sends his regards to the Fluorosphere, as does Paws the Pound Puppy. She's the only popular toy I ever wanted or received for Christmas. My parents went to 3 stores, and she was the last Pound Puppy on the shelf. She has had much good and useful advice over the years.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:14 AM:

My only stuffed animal resides on top of my bookshelves and it probably is no coincidence that my books seldom disappear as they are guarded by Holy Grail's rabbit with pointy teeth.

#70 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:35 AM:

The downstairs bookcase is currently hosting this moose, a hand-knitted Gromit, another hand-knitted Feathers McGraw, two Mad Cows, J.E.R.Boa (7th Armoured (Retd.)), the rest of the Moose Operating Division, Wrigley Caterpillar, and the Beast of Caer Bannog (who must be time-sharing with Serge). Books don't vanish from there, either.

#71 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:13 PM:

Serge: Alas.... She will be leaving in the early part of the month, and (if I can manage it at work... fingers are crossed,and details to be worked out soon), I'll be leaving for Ottawa on the 22nd, to have a christmas in the snow.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Terry Karney @ 71... Drat! For me anyway. Well, my best wishes to the two of you for the Holidays.

#73 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 12:40 PM:

Teemu Kalvas @66: But now that it's actually cold and we have snow, I really prefer to spend what limited daylight there is in the great room with the blue ceiling and yellow light.


I had been slowly making my way over a several-year process of putting two and two together that I might just possibly have a touch of the SAD, when one day I wandered into the Denver Public Library, the big main branch on Colfax downtown, meandered up to the 5th floor (Genealogy and Special Collections), and went over to the big tables in the front room/alcove with the very tall ceiling and windows and the walls painted sky blue.

And it was like walking into a sigh of sudden contentment and relaxation and feeling about 10 lb. of doldrums fall off my shoulders.

Natural light reflecting off sky blue surfaces! I've walked into rooms that incorporate this elsewhere, more often than not in libraries (most recently the "Winter Garden" at the top of the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library), and always felt that same unsubtle lifting of the spirits and lightening of the load. It works even when the surface is my fuzzy blue blanket in bed.

How does that work?

#74 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Would it surprise anyone that I've got two Edward Gorey bats and one of his cats in my small stuffed animal collection (as well as a wolf, who guards one of my storage lockers...). Not an exhaustive list, at all.

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:27 PM:

David, #60: Well, it's a little late to tell them now; that dinner was probably 15 years ago, and both have passed on in the interim. And they definitely did count the mashed potatoes as a vegetable, and probably the cranberry sauce as well. A very 1950s sensibility, although they both grew up prior to that era.

Lila, #65: No, that wasn't it. That was the best they could do for a celebratory meal within their (voluntarily-imposed) dietary restrictions. They were the kind of people who believed every scare story out of the diet industry, and allowed their lives to be slowly hemmed around thereby.

And there have been times when I would have found the Jetsons' meal-in-a-pill to be a very useful thing, when I had so many other things to do in a day that there wasn't time for a proper meal. If all you have time for is to stuff something in your mouth as quickly as possible, certainly a nutritionally-complete pill would be a better choice than whatever junk food is easily available.

#76 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Lee, #54, I grew up thinking that the baked chicken was fried chicken; ours had smushed Rice Krispies, though. I always liked the taste -- the coating keeps a lot of the moisture in. I didn't know about real fried chicken until we moved to the east coast.

I've never had stuffed animals because I'm allergic to dust. When I got them as presents, we gave them to shelters. I only have two stuffed pieces of furniture -- loveseat and recliner -- and I wash all the bed linens every Sunday.

#77 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Lee @ 54: Sadly, that meal probably wasn't low-sodium, either. Instant dinner rolls seldom are.
Since going on a reduced-sodium diet, I've been shocked at how much of the stuff is in places I'd never suspected. (Milk? Jelly Bellys? Celery? Seriously?)

Re: Stuffed animals: My much-loved Cinnamon has gotten too fragile to cuddle (I got her from my Grandma S, and she's at least 50 years old), but she still has a place of honor on the headboard.

#78 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:22 PM:


And this would be the thread to ask: what's the Dutch name of the song that in English is "We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing" (tune Kremser)?

#79 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Lee #75: Re: the dinner, that's sad. But yeah, the 1950s were the age of TV dinners.....

Re: Lila #65, I'd say rather that they were presenting cooking more than eating, as the chore. While a literal meal-in-a-pill (even "just add water") runs afoul of density issues (fat is 8.6 Kcal/gram, carbs and protein are half that. Non-trivial to compress them...), there have been occasional attempts at meals-in-a-bar (I recall the Dilburrito.) The big problem is those fragile vitamins, which are not cooperative about room-temperature shelf-life. (That and palatability -- we really did evolve as grazers/scavengers, and it shows in our tastes!)

Of course, the NASA space program spun off a whole mini-industry of dehydrated, vacuum packed and compressed foods... now widely available as hiking supplies. Those are probably about as close as you can get to that shelf-stable "instant food".

On the other hand, it might be nice to see a "people kibble", something that could replace a normal diet for a little while... for when you're that buried in a project or something. Maybe with a liquid supplement....

#80 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 03:54 PM:

David Harmon -- essentially, lembas and Ent-draught?

#81 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Bill Stewart @52, mine cost around $100 on Amazon; it's the Philips GoLite P1. It's very small, but bright. It plugs into the wall; there's also a car adapter available, but it would be very strange for other drivers to see a bright blue light coming from the car, I think.

You don't look directly at the light - all you need is to have it shining at your eyes from nearby. I used it all last winter - usually while I checked my email and ate breakfast in the morning - and it did make a difference.

#82 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 05:31 PM:

David Harmon (79) is talking about Bachelor Chow.

This was a lovely post, Abi. Thank you. I sent it to a friend in need, who felt better immediately after reading it.

#83 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 05:47 PM:

@79 & 82 -

There's always Nutraloaf (possibly a step down, or even over, from Bachelor Chow.)

(My own bachelor chow recipes are based on ramen noodles and canned veg. Do not miss that part of being single, nope.)

#84 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 06:18 PM:

Andrew M @ 78
Thank you!

(I've seen that name, but assumed it was a description rather than a name--Netherlands' Thanks Song just seems, to my American ears, like an odd name.)

#85 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Madeline Ashby #82: Hah! Pretty much... incidentally, googling "Bachelor Chow" Led some amusing places -- besides finding out about the Futurama reference (I've never seen the show), a nice list of convenience foods (note the "space food" right under the MREs), a spoof ad on Monkeyspit, and Kooky Chew Human Dog Food.

And Nutraloaf seems to be a rather crude and (purposely) unpalatable implementation of the idea. I suspect it could be made better if it weren't meant as a punishment!

#86 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Debbie #80: only if the creators triple-critical on palatability....

#87 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Nicole @73

Green does it even better for me. In the house we built our bedroom faced south and east (in an end wall) and had more glass than wall. We painted it an amazing shade of blue-green (almost a teal) with a very pale yellow ceiling then put eight foot long fluorescent lights with one warm and one cool tube in each. Very much an oasis for me (though husband thought it was aquarium like).

#88 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2010, 11:59 PM:

Kyndra @87: Wow, that sounds a lot like my parents' house. (Slightly greener than shows in the picture.) My mother actually got the color composition off a birthday card one of my sisters sent her.

They're horrified at the watermelon-pink fireplace, but it makes me laugh. Sure, it's mind-blowingly pink, but it makes my mom happy. And as she says, we can paint over it when she's gone. (May that day be long in coming.)

#89 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:07 AM:

Ursula. Heh. ::giggle::

#90 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:22 AM:

Hey, abi, here's an evil thought: turn the bgcolor on Making Light to a light blue for the winter months? Say, a nice, delicate #90C0FF, perhaps? Since you spend so much time staring at it anyway, might as well get a little additional medicinal benefit, eh?

#91 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:28 AM:

Mary Aileen @37: Aubrey

My goodness! That's a right respectable bear! I've made just enough stuffed animals to have a clue how difficult it is. I'm impressed!

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 12:43 AM:

Elliott Mason @56: Here's my Gertrude, demonstrating proper guinea pig snuggling technique with assistant Avedan. (Unfortunately, this is also how we discovered that Avedan is allergic to guinea pigs.)

#93 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 10:03 AM:

Jacque (91): Thank you! I make a lot of bears and other critters. That's one reason my living room is drowning in them.

#94 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 10:16 AM:

Dave Harmon @79 re people kibble -- reminds me of a cartoon in a 1979 paperback called Startoons (worth seeking out for the Phil Foglio convention reports in comic form) -- Han Solo is munching down on a bowl of crunchy food in a bowl marked "Han", saying "Hey, this stuff is great -- what do you call it?" and Chewbacca is standing behind him holding a big bag of "Burina" Humanoid Chow.

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 49... Wasn't there a running gag about cons with a Dorsai security force?

#96 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 02:00 PM:

Serge @95 -- oh, yes, and Foglio drew the most delightfully wicked leers for them.

#97 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 03:53 PM:

B. Durbin @88

Yep that's pretty much exactly it. No pink fireplace, but an amazing purple and plaid king size quilt made by my M-I-L. The green line in the plaid was the exact shade of the walls, it really made the room, quilt doesn't look anywhere near as good in our current house.

#98 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 06:04 PM:

re Serge's #95: the Dorsai Irregulars history page.

Some people thought the Dorsai Irregulars were peachy keen, others thought they were (I think I'm quoting PNH here) "fucking assholes".

#99 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Wasn't Robert Asprin one of the Dorsai Irregulars? I dimly recall this, but this somewhat pre-dated my arrival in fandom.

#100 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Coming in late, after getting back from a Thanksgiving that included a dinner at my mother's to rival the one Lee mentioned:

turkey breast, soupy watery instant mashed potatoes w/ garlic salt, totally tasteless packaged dressing the consistency of cookie dough, gravy the consistency of chicken broth (splashed me when I started to pour it), lima beans, brussels sprouts, burnt supermarket package rolls, some sort of margarine, tinned cranberries (which apparently somehow still managed to explode during the cooking process), frozen pumpkin pie (at least the topping was real CoolWhip), a Four Seasons fruit pie from Central market--brought by some of the other guests--, and the prosecco we brought. It only remains to note that every one of these things was lukewarm if not colder, and that the only dish, excepting dessert, with any flavor at all was the brussels sprouts.

I spent the whole meal, and much time after, fanstasizing about what I would cook if I were doing it.

#101 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 08:15 PM:

Joann @100, that's just ... depressing. Even with hacking a chunk out of my finger big enough to necessitate a trip to urgent care (hard to do a decent pressure dressing one-handed, even if I had had the proper supplies in the house), I still managed a nice moist turkey encrusted in herbs, all the appropriate sides, and five different pickled things. And my signature dessert, pumpkin mousse with maple cream topping. (By the way, all low-carb -- proof that special diet holiday meals need not be bland and boring.)

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 08:49 PM:

I've had a few disappointing Thanksgiving meals, most notably with college friends from overseas who didn't understand the concept.

* * *

In Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky, high school kids have to pass a dangerous survival test. I forget the consequences for not passing.

I'd like to suggest a much more practical do-or-die test of skill that a competency-worshipping SFnal society of the future should impose for young people:

You have to cook a decent Thanksgiving dinner. Ham, turkey, even fish . . . heck, Tofurky would be allowed, but the proctors' would be especially merciless in judging the end product.

If depicted in a novel, instead of the usual patronizing blowhard father figure, you could have an sarcastic ass like Anthony Bourdain laying down the rules, listing the terrible sins of the Crazy Years when Americans lowered themselves to microwave entrees, and explaining why non-cookers aren't allowed to drive.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 08:55 PM:

Stefan Jones @102: In Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky, high school kids have to pass a dangerous survival test. I forget the consequences for not passing.

If memory serves, survival earned you a passing grade. Ahem.

#104 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 09:05 PM:

Due to family obligations, I have been getting up at 0400 lately, and yes, as mentioned by others, I have gotten very fond of Venus lately.

Especially since long ago I adopted the habit of calling Mrs. Psycho "my Brightly Shining", and more recently I realized that I had been unconsciously identifying her with the morning star all along.

I have also, as a result of getting up early or working late, seen other blessings of the predawn world, such as mist down on the flood plain like a phantom inundation. And the contrails of early-morning jets, flying up where it is already sunrise. streaking the dark blue sky like flaming tears.

#105 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2010, 10:35 PM:

Dr. Psycho @104: It is one of the oft-repeated observations of my life that the dawn hour is absolutely gorgeous, and that that gorgeousness is nonetheless not sufficient by itself to compel me to be awake at that hour.

#106 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:07 AM:

Brooks Moses @ #105, "that gorgeousness is nonetheless not sufficient by itself to compel me to be awake at that hour."

Word. That's why I've never seen dawn at Haleakala despite several opportunities to do so.

#107 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:11 AM:

Dawn (and sunrise) are IMO far better appreciated at the end of a long night than at the beginning of another long day.

(Says she, whose externally-imposed schedule should have had her in bed two forking hours ago...)

#108 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Stefan, that is a great idea! My brother the culinary student would heartily approve (as do I, for that matter).

#109 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 03:34 AM:

One of the perks of working☁ several summers for the City of Chicago Farmer's Markets was getting to enjoy bright twilight summer mornings, when there was nobody using the streets but me and newspaper delivery trucks. There's a quality to the light then that I've not seen equalled any other time; too bad digital cameras hadn't gone ubiquitous yet then, or my artbrain might've been bludgeoning me to do photo shoots in it.

Getting used to the shift was utter hell, but it was kind of neat once I acclimated.

☁ For some values of working. It was a fairly non-demanding job☂ -- lots and lots of sitting around✿, punctuated by people-wrangling and the occasional moment of utter bonkers emergency☀.
☂ My basic job description was "Be the official on-site rep of the relevant city department." For this they paid me 8-10 hours of minimum wage per day, several times a week, and I got afternoons off ... at the price of having to get there no later than 5AM.
✿ I got a lot of reading done. I also socialized somewhat with the vendors⊗. I got in the habit of carrying a lightweight folding chair (and a large umbrella, for either shade or rain-shelter) with me on the train on the way to my shift, which got me funny looks but was TOTALLY WORTH IT when I didn't have to spend six hours sitting on a curbstone.
⊗ The ones that liked me got in the habit of letting me have, at the end of the day, anything unsold that was still edible THEN but wouldn't be after another three hours jouncing around in the heat of the drive back to Michigan. This is especially funny because I mostly don't eat fruit. :-> I froze a lot of it; I made a lot of pies and gave them away. Some of the frozen stuff ended up being cordialled by he-who-is-now-my-husband (but-was-then-my-boyfriend)☘.
☀ Like the time a vendor thought someone'd stolen a money-belt✪, or the time a moron decided he didn't have to obey the Streets & Sanitation horses we'd blocked the street with while my vendors were tearing down: clearly, since they did not entirely obstruct absolutely every inch of pavement, he was justified in shouldering them apart with his hood-corners and attempting to zoom up the street, between fruit stands and half-dismantled canopies and all, at 30mph.
✪ Since this was in the days before ubiquitous cell-phones, I had to walk down to the fire station two blocks away to use their pay phone so I could call the cops. By the time I got back and the cops showed up, the vendor'd found his money-belt ... it was on the seat of his truck. Good times.
☘ I'm not certain these footnotes are in quite the proper order, but as they're not numbers, nobody can tell!

#110 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft #101:

It was indeed depressing (I knew it would be like that, I'd offered to bring some prepared sides from the same place the other guests' pie came from and gotten turned down, and I'd hogged the prosecco with malice aforethought), but the most depressing parts of the occasion weren't actually part of the meal itself but fell so squarely into the category of "Dysfunctional Families Day," for which we are officially out of season, that I feel in no position to comment here. (Not that I've ever commented there anyway.)

When I was in Venice, Thanksgiving came round, and I cooked myself a nice little meal--stuffed bird so small I had to use two to feed just me, clementine glaze, lots of onions and crusty bread in said stuffing, glazed carrots, and apple bread pudding. I may have dipped into my sacred jar of jalapenos for something or the other. All very tasty.

#111 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Stefan Jones @102, I do rather like the idea of being able to prepare a decent Thanksgiving dinner as a test of adulthood. Once you have learned that indeed you are capable of following directions and cooking an edible turkey, the rest of life looks a little easier. Things from cans may be permitted, but only if one at least mucks about with them a little; i.e., no plopping the cranberry jelly straight onto a plate with the can rings still showing, but canned sliced beets that you pickle yourself are okay. Extra points for setting an attractive table. Advanced placement students may add the optional, grueling social component to the exam and attempt to devise seating arrangements that prevent or minimize bloodshed.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:56 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 111... seating arrangements that prevent or minimize bloodshed

After all, it's called Thanksgiving, not Bloodletting.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:00 PM:

We plopped the cranberry jelly into a boat-shaped dish. The can rings showed, but the dish made it look much better. (The dish wasn't used for much else, actually.)

(As a kid, you learn to not drink milk right after eating cranberry anything.)

#114 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Jacque@99: Yes.

(Photo from Discon II, 1974 Worldcon).

#115 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Stefan Jones@102: The survival course, and its final exam, are elective; not required. However, it's a necessary course for anybody planning to emigrate to one of the newly colonized planets, which (in that book) essentially anybody with any gumption is. (It's apparently more common to take the course in college, but this highschool offers it.)

The definition of passing the course is surviving. If you're there for pickup, you pass.

I would have liked to learn about electrical wiring and plumbing and sheet-rock in highschool. Cooking wouldn't hurt either -- though I expect they would have taught a lot more use of packaged ingredients than I was used to or practice myself.

I've never taken a live turkey all the way through to serving for dinner, but I've cooked many out of plastic bags.

#116 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @111:
Advanced placement students may add the optional, grueling social component to the exam and attempt to devise seating arrangements that prevent or minimize bloodshed.

Beginning placement students simply try to get everyone onto chairs and in front of plates.

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Debbie, #80: There's a variety of ciabatta roll, available at CostCo, which is referred to around here as "lembas" because it's amazingly filling for something that small. IMO it doesn't make good sandwiches, because it's dense enough to overwhelm almost any filling; I prefer it sliced vertically and buttered.

Jacque, #99: Yes, and I'm pretty sure that there was significant crossover between the DI and the Dark Horde. Which probably explains why some people thought they were assholes. (I didn't run into them much -- there was a regional aspect too, and they didn't penetrate the Southern con circuit.)

joann, #100: Yikes. At least most of the food at the dinner I described was edible, just rather flavorless. I think the only things out of your description that I could have eaten were the turkey breast (maybe, if it wasn't overcooked and dry) and the fruit pie.

Thena, #107: Hear, hear!

Janet, #111: Making fresh cranberry sauce is so friggin' easy* that I just see no excuse for the canned stuff any more. Now, that's a whole-berry sauce, so if you absolutely have to have the jelly, that might be different.

* My recipe uses water rather than OJ, and adds the juice and minced peel of 1/2 lemon. IMO orange and cranberry don't go together well.

#118 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 01:48 PM:

As my mother discovered the year she made her own sauce, my father definitely has to have the jellied stuff. In the shape of a can. With ridges. Or it's just not Thanksgiving.

This is the source of much humor and mockery every year, now.

#119 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Yes, I lived for years with a person who had to have the jellied stuff, with ridges, just like abi's Dad. My whole berry sauce is almost as simple as the one Lee linked to --

16 ounces cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons orange peel, grated
1 dash allspice
1 dash cloves
10 drops orange extract
1 cup sugar (or Splenda if preferred)

Bring cranberries, water, and orange peel to boil. Boil till berry skins pop, about 5 minutes, usually less. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir well. Refrigerate.

Keeps practically forever, too.

#120 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 03:46 PM:

I'm not certain why everyone's using the past tense to refer to the Dorsai Irregulars fandom subset group -- they're still around, attending cons en beret and having certain service requirements for membership, etc. So far as I know they're still admitting new folks; as of about ten years ago, someone I knew was (my outsider-approximation terminology) serving an apprenticeship with that aim.

No idea if they ever actually still do con security, though I've seen them hired to run/protect an art show at a Chicago con.

#121 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:19 PM:

I was off line a few days to visit my aunt's house where we don't have the connection yet. So now I am finally catching up with the global village. Happy thanksgiving all.

#122 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:25 PM:

I'm one who likes the jellied cranberry sauce.

While watching the Today show Thanksgiving morning, I saw Martha Stewart admit that she likes the jellied cranberry sauce... but she makes her own.

#123 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 04:49 PM:

My brother likes the jellied cranberry sauce, with can ridges. My mother and sister like the whole-berry kind, served hot. When we have the whole family together (increasingly rare, sadly), my mother serves both kinds.

These days, my sister and I usually have just the two of us for Thanksgiving, so we have a scaled-down feast:

turkey breast*
herb stuffing from a box, or baked potatoes
carrot and raisin salad (we make it with mayo, not pineapple juice)
green beans
homemade pumpkin pie
sparkling cider

Neither of us likes gravy, so we don't bother with that. For a while, we had both stuffing and baked potatoes, but that was too much.

*if we can't find one, we make do with a roasted chicken

#124 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 05:23 PM:

Last year Eva discovered a recipe for cranberry chutney; we liked it so well we've put it into our permanent Thanksgiving repertoire. There are a lot of recipes out there, with various different spice combinations (cinnamon & ginger, allspice & cloves, ginger, tabasco, & worcestershire sauce (!)). This is one we like.

#125 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Lee @ 117 ...
Jacque, #99: Yes, and I'm pretty sure that there was significant crossover between the DI and the Dark Horde. Which probably explains why some people thought they were assholes. (I didn't run into them much -- there was a regional aspect too, and they didn't penetrate the Southern con circuit.)

Lee -- I'm confused by that. Are you trying to say that the Great Dark Horde are/were populated by assholes, or that the Dorsai Irregulars were ... or that groups that Robert Asprin may or may not have been involved in starting are/were populated by assholes?

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Stefan Jones, #102, Americans lowered themselves to microwave entrees, and explaining why non-cookers aren't allowed to drive

Now, I can't afford to hire someone to cook for me, but I'm still a good driver.

I used to make this for Thanksgiving and people always thought it should be dessert:

Cranberry Salad
serves 8

1 package cranberries
1 #2 can crushed pineapple
1 package miniature marshmallows
1.5 cups of sugar
0.5 pint whipping cream
0.5 pint nuts

Grind up cranberries.

Mix together all except whipping cream and let stand in refrigerator overnight. Before serving, add whipped cream.

(I usually use Cool Whip instead of whipping cream.)

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 07:30 PM:

xeger, #125: Sorry, let me unpack that a bit more. The Dark Horde (with which I was rather more familiar, being more SCA than fannish back then) had a... delicate... relationship with the rest of the SCA for a long time, and there were a number of people who thought they were assholes. (I was not one of that number.) There was also a fair amount of crossover from the SCA to fandom, so I expect some of that attitude would have carried over, in the areas where the Horde/DI groups overlapped. Mostly I'm recalling overheard grumbles from people I didn't know well.

#128 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 10:52 PM:

Lee @ 127 ...
. The Dark Horde (with which I was rather more familiar, being more SCA than fannish back then) had a... delicate... relationship with the rest of the SCA for a long time, and there were a number of people who thought they were assholes. (I was not one of that number.)

Ah, yes ;) Sometimes referred to as the biker gang of the SCA, or as the conscience of the king... one never knows where there might be a ninja...

#129 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:01 PM:

#117: I use those ciabatta rolls for grilled burgers. Specifically vegetable patties and chicken burgers also sold by Costco. I grill the roll too, using a George Foreman Grill*. The pressure of the lid flattens and softens the roll. A little cheese, a little BBQ sauce, a 1/4" thick slice of grilled onion . . . s'real good.

#130 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:07 PM:

Re: Jellied vs. homemade cranberry sauce

Despite only cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 4 or 5 people the past few years, Mom has had to serve two cranberry sauces: homemade for her and canned (with ridges) for me. This year was probably the last for that, since she tried a new recipe for a sort of cranberry chutney*. As she said when I went back for seconds, "I guess I'd better write this one down."

*It has whole berries, apples (unpeeled, cut to about the same size as an unburst cranberry), nuts (walnuts or pecans, I'm not sure which), and either orange zest or orange juice (or maybe both).

#131 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2010, 11:26 PM:

I like both types of cranberry sauce. But on post-Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing sandwiches, only the loose berry stuff will do.

* * *
Trashure report: Spotted in the trash today a "turkey roaster," a large electric oven / roasting pan. It was crusted with burned vegetables and gravy. I guess it was easier to throw away than clean. Good old American gumption and can-do at work!

The pan part was removable. "At the least," I thinks, "If I clean it up and the electric gizmology doesn't work, I'll have a nice enclosed enamel pan for no-knead bread."

Hosed out the bits of carrot and potato and sauce in the car cleaning spot. Filled the pan up with water and a slug of bleach, then stuck in in my oven with the lid on. The crud and grease eventually let go; a little Brillo took care of the toasty black scabs.

And the electric gizmology works. I poured in a half-inch of water, turned it on medium, and let it boil away, which should have thoroughly sterilized it.

So, I guess I have a roaster. Never cooked fowl before. I guess this is a Sign.

#132 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 12:44 AM:

As it happens I made cranberries into sauce this evening (to go *with* the leftovers, right?) My standard recipe is cranberries, Marsala, cloves, and sugar. I like cloves.

#133 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:16 AM:

My mother would usually do different cranberry sauces for Thanksgiving and Christmas - Thanksgiving got canned (with some variability about whole-berry or jellied), and Christmas got the homemade cranberry-orange relish, which involved running the ingredients through a meat-grinder. I suspect the latter tradition dated from the days that oranges were seasonal special treats that showed up around Christmas and weren't available at Thanksgiving.

#134 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:51 AM:

Stefan @ 131: Maybe someone had a very unpleasant Thanksgiving and sworn they'd never roast a turkey again.

#135 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 02:12 AM:

I like the relatively uncommon cranberry-horseradish sauce better than plain cranberry.

#136 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Bill Stewart @133 --- ooo, the meat grinder one with the orange! Yes, I got that one from an aunt and usually make it at Christmas. Mine has grapes, walnuts, celery, and lemon jello as well. Somehow I find myself humming a medley from Sweeney Todd whenever I make it, which isn't very seasonal.

#137 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:59 AM:

The Dark Horde (with which I was rather more familiar, being more SCA than fannish back then) had a... delicate... relationship with the rest of the SCA for a long time, and there were a number of people who thought they were assholes.

These days the Horde is much more domesticated, at least as far as I can tell; the biker gang/asshole slot has been neatly taken over by the Tuchux. (Full disclosure: I am, decidedly, one of the people who thinks the 'chux are assholes. I have reasons for this view.)

I've always wondered why the Horde played the game when they didn't seem to want to actually, you know, play the game.

And just to cross threads, I'm firmly in the whole-berries camp, in large part because I have texture issues with jelly.

#138 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Since the title of this is "Modern Solstice" it's certainly on topic for the thread, being a song for the wrong time of year. Also, you know, holiday and dark and stories and so on...

This is the ending of the year,
the darkest time,
and even now
we are not sure
that we can beat it back
Switch on a light.
Switch on another light.
Brace all our brave technology
against the press of dark,
the maw of cold.
We are not sure we’ll win.

We’ve learned, by now,
we do not need to kill
a virgin, king, or fool
to bring the sun again.
Blood does not save.
But what can save us?
Central heating?
Salted roads and plows?
Oh God, switch on a light.
It’s dark so soon these days.

We know it is the wind
and not a banshee
screaming for our deaths.
There are no trolls
to take the children.
The fields and trees are resting,
are not dead.
They will return.
We have nothing to fear.
The sun always returns.
We always see the spring.
And yet. . .

Switch on light.
Switch on another light,
and build a fire
and light some candles
for the windows, too.
Draw near
and tell old tales
of evil vanquished
dark denied
and blaze this other light
against the dark.

#139 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:09 AM:

Lee @ #117: GELATIN??? (shudders delicately)

My recipe includes one 12-oz. bag of fresh cranberries, the juice and zest of one large orange, and about 3/4 c. of sugar. I expect you could sub a couple of lemons for the orange and up the sugar a bit. It gels all by itself. I like it with the berries burst but still retaining a fair amount of structural integrity.

It is, as you say, easy. Simmer the berries and juice and zest (slowly, especially if the berries are frozen) till the berries burst, and then a little longer, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and continue simmering and stirring till it is dissolved. Remove from heat. As soon as it's cool enough to decant into your serving dish without breaking the serving dish, do so. Remove remaining scraps of sauce from the pan with wooden spoon, fingers or other appropriate utensil before they get cold, as it will be much harder to remove after that.

#140 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:03 PM:

Stefan Jones @28

Amen! It's even worse when a large percentage of the diners are either diabetic or have hyper caloric awareness. I just wish that some of the indulgers wouldn't indulge then turn around and complain about their numbers.

Which is why some of my family go for a postprandial walk. The main excuse is to let the kids blow off steam running through fields* and throwing things in water^. The reality is that it makes the adults who walk feel better.

* Thanksgiving is held on the family farm. When it's not, we head for the park.

^ We have a creek running past the house at the foot of the hill. In warmer months, we go wading. In colder months, we just toss in dirt clods, rocks, sticks and field detritus. Thursday's expedition (and it's an honest-to-Ghu expedition when the wind chill is -4 Fahrenheit) involved breaking ice.

#141 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 01:54 PM:

Abi @ 118

We used to get that, too. Only we'd slice it along the ridges and fan the slices to disguise the canned aspect.

As for a disguised homemade version.... keep a can with the right size and shape, wash it out and fill it with homemade cranberry gel.

1 bag of fresh cranberries (cleaned and sorted)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one orange
juice from aforementioned orange optional

Boil the cranberries in the water until are the berries are burst (10 to 15 minutes or so I do this by eye^) stirring frequently until a thin sauce forms around the hulls.

Strain the hulls out of the liquid (you may want to use cheese cloth for this to get maximum liquid content) and return the pulp/liquid to the pan, adding the sugar, and orange bits. (Discard the hulls.) Simmer on low heat until reduced to a thick sauce stirring frequently (more than five minutes, less than 20) It should be the consistency of gravy when done.

Pour into a container and cool.

Other options include:
--swirling sauce into a cheesecake
--spreading the on a basic pie crust that was sprinkled with chocolate chips and nuts then baking at 350/moderate oven/3 gas mark until the crust is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
--using it in jam print cookies
--don't squeeze all the pulp out of the hulls. Take the solid matter and chop it a bit, (cranberry skin has an amazing amount of fiber) throw in some chopped pecans and use the mix as a smear in sweet rolls (I put orange zest in the dough)

^ I learned to cook by watching people who didn't measure*. Most of the time, I don't measure either. I'm writing a cook book and have found that stopping to measure things is vastly annoying**. I've also discovered that my "eyeball method" is fairly accurate. I know how much a teaspoon/tablespoon looks when dumped out of a container.

* My mother's bread recipe began with "take a 25 pound sack of flour and grab it around the middle. Dump half into a dish pan." Scaling it back to something that only produced 4-5 loaves was quite an undertaking.

** One of the more amusing things I learned was that my "handful" pretty consistently equals 1/4 cup. It makes interpreting very old recipes into a modern format easier.

#142 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Carrie S. @ 137 ...
These days the Horde is much more domesticated, at least as far as I can tell; the biker gang/asshole slot has been neatly taken over by the Tuchux. (Full disclosure: I am, decidedly, one of the people who thinks the 'chux are assholes. I have reasons for this view.)

Like the rest of the SCA, the Horde's gotten older...

The Tuchux ... no idea why they show up for things SCA, when they're quite so involved in their own particular world view...

I've always wondered why the Horde played the game when they didn't seem to want to actually, you know, play the game.

They've always played the game[0] ... just depends on which game ;)

[0] Take a look at the number of peers in the Horde...

And just to cross threads, I'm firmly in the whole-berries camp, in large part because I have texture issues with jelly.

#143 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 07:29 PM:

Katie and I visited her parents last week, and we too made the cranberry-orange in an old-fashioned meat grinder. I'd never even seen one before. I suggested adding some spices (a little cloves, say) but that got vetoed: it was just cranberry, orange, and sugar.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Lila, #139: I'm confused. Where are you getting "gelatin" out of anything in my #117? The recipe I linked to doesn't use it, and I didn't mention it at all.

xeger, #142: At a guess, the Tuchux find the SCA more tolerant of their variety of... whatever... than the mundane world would be. The same may have applied to the early days of the Dark Horde.

And I was wondering how long it would take for the Horseradish Abomination to crop up. :-)

#145 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Sarah S @138 - Wow.

#146 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Bill Stewart # 133:

Ah yes. Mine involves, for each bag of cranberries, a peeled and chopped orange, ditto an apple, run the cranberries through the grinder attachment of the 1946 Hamilton Beach mixer; mix together, add a glob of honey, chill. Best made at least a day or two before the planned dinner. (Best made in at least a double batch, if there's going to be any *left* by the time of the dinner.) I also like the canned stuff though, especially on sandwiches the next few days. (Now I'm hungry again, and out of bread. Store run soon, I suspect...)

#147 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Lee, #127, you reminded me of Rosemary Edghill's Bell, Book and Murder, a trilogy where the last book has SCA and the Dark Horde. I finished a book I didn't like last night, so I just pulled this out and plan to start rereading it tonight.

#148 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:09 AM:

xeger @ 142 ..
And just to cross threads, I'm firmly in the whole-berries camp, in large part because I have texture issues with jelly.

Er... I hope that was some sort of weird cut'n'paste error that I completely and utterly missed ... since if it wasn't, there's something deeply disturbing going on...

(among other things, I have no texture issues with jelly, and had a quite nummy salmon sandwich with jelly for lunch)

#149 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:55 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #131, Ah, one of these. This one is ~60 years old and we still use it for turkey twice a year, on T-Day and Christmas Eve. I noticed that Rival, Hamilton Beach, and a few others are selling new versions for as little as $49.99 this year.

#150 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:45 AM:

Coming to the discussion late, my favorite stuffie is also an Ikea find. This kangaroo leaped out of the bin into my arms. She, and her joey, were originally intended as a gift. That lasted one night, because Roxanne rather firmly decided to be mine.

#151 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Our family cranberry relish recipe sounds very similar to some of the ones already mentioned — meat grinder, check; unpeeled orange, check; prepare a day in advance so the flavors can mingle, check; make a double batch if you want any left for the actual day, check...

This year I've been playing around with adding spices (ground cloves, ginger, allspice, that kind of thing). The new version is almost there, but not quite. Guess I'll have to go make another batch or five and keep experimenting. *dramatic back of hand to forehead* What a sacrifice!

#152 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Lee: Lila, #139: I'm confused. Where are you getting "gelatin" out of anything in my #117? The recipe I linked to doesn't use it, and I didn't mention it at all.

Gelatin is suggested in step 2 of the recipe you linked:

"2. Add cranberries to the sugar mixture and cook for 10 minutes until the cranberries start popping.(Gelatin can also be added if necessary)"

The parentheses make it very easy to pass over, though. Also I suspect the instinctual application of brain bleach upon the mere mention of ruining cranberry sauce with gelatin makes it hard to remember having seen.

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:33 PM:

#149: I bet a repairman from 1950 would have no trouble fixing the one I found, which like yours has one simple knob; the design probably hasn't changed since then.

I envy your manual. I'll probably Google up an online version if I decide to actually use the thing, as opposed to simply donating it.

#154 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:46 PM:

Stefan @ #153, I had little difficulty replacing the cord a few years ago, which pleasantly surprised me. Standardization has its points.

Are you saying yours has more than one control knob? Huh. The new H-B one has just one.

#155 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:07 PM:

#154: At the moment, mine has NO knob. Just the shaft. I'll be checking out appliance stores for standardized replacements next weekend. (It's just one control.)

I'm thinking of replacing the flabby cord on mine with a heavy-duty three-prong computer cord.

#156 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:34 PM:

Nicole, #152: Ah. No, I wouldn't have noticed that, because it's not in the ingredients list. And if I want to add gelatin, I'll... I'll never want to add gelatin.

#157 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Lin D, on stuffed animals from Ikea - a couple of years back, before we headed to a family reunion that ended up not quite overlapping with Denvention, there was a bin of leftover $5 cuddly dragons at Ikea, about six feet long and happily green, and we acquired one assuming it would end up as a present for my niece. However, before that could happen, he got used as decor at my mother's birthday party, and she draped him around her neck and adopted him.

Well, "zut alors!", as it says in "There's a Dragon in my Bed", the picture book we learned our childhood French from, time for another trip back to Ikea, which had by then run out of dragons. Fortunately, somebody at the Denvention Dealer's room had a few of them, so we got another for the niece and one that occasionally hangs out on our own bed.

#158 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:44 PM:

#156 Lee: that comment is almost exactly what I wanted to make, except replacing gelatin with cranberries. I know I'm odd that way; but I don't like jams or jellies either, usually, so, please, use the can-with-ridges; it's much less work wasted when you throw it out.

Heathen, I know. Of course, for Thanksgiving this year (in October), we had ham instead of turkey - so I'm already apostate.

#159 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Stefan Jones #155: Somehow, you make that sound dirty....

#160 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Mycroft W #158: we had ham instead of turkey

Harry J. Hoenselaar was a genius.

#161 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Nicole @152 - I can't even imagine finding the addition of gelatin to cranberry sauce being necessary. I make your basic cranberry sauce (water, sugar, cranberries) every year, and I've always found that the cranberries have enough natural pectin to set up quite firmly when cooled. Of course, I prefer my cranberry sauce warm, so I seldom have much that gets to that stage anyway.

#162 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:17 PM:

Jacque @ 89. Orson (ourson)is also an excellent name for a bear...

#163 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2010, 05:30 PM:

Stefan Jones #129: Might I inquire about the missing footnote?

#164 ::: vee sees spam @164 ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 12:46 PM:

Does spam disappear immediately on flagging?

#166 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 01:18 PM:

Serge@165: I am not spam!

There was a comment at 164 in my feed reader: "Nice subject great exececution on your site

Posted June 27, 2011 8:40 PM by answers yahoo". Logged on to check the actual page and refreshed several times. Spammy comment stayed put, so I flagged it.

Should I not...?

#167 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 01:30 PM:

...clearly should not have pasted the original language, as last comment is now caught in the filter.

This is just to say: I am not spam. But I suspect I may be flagging spam-ghosts due to reading comment threads through the RSS feeds.

#168 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 02:35 PM:

vee @166: pointing to spam -- good. Quoting spam -- bad.

Do you write poetry?

#169 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 05:09 PM:

Tom @168: Not very well, I'm afraid.

#170 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 05:21 PM:

vee @ 169: "This is just to say: I am not spam."

I suspect you've got the beginning of a poem right there.

#171 ::: The Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2011, 12:15 AM:

This is just to say:

We have eaten
the spam
that was in
the song thread

and left
you seem foolishly
at nothing

Forgive us
we are efficient
so swift
and so cold

#172 ::: Jo MacQueen sees a third spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 12:20 AM:

at #172:

"I luv ya, I luv ya" says the little blue spam
"I luv ya, I luv ya to bits."
"I luv ya, I luv ya" says the little blue spam,
and annoyed us right out of our wits!

And now I'm going to have the chorus of that song in my head all afternoon, drat it.

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