Archive for January, 2014

Let’s Start With Thanksgiving


2014
01.25

Now that Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwaanza and New Year’s and MLK Day are over, it’s time to talk about Thanksgiving. At least my Thanksgiving weekend, which I’d been too addled to write about, but now have sorted through the odds and ends moving around in my brain. Poetic, isn’t it?

My family broke tradition this year by each going our separate ways for Thanksgiving. It is a time in our lives when there are children and grandchildren and new in-laws and outlaws, and it’s getting harder and harder to work out who goes where and when, which is probably a common family issue. My choice this year was to accept an invitation from my friends Jerry and April, and their affable kids Lydia, Mahalia and Henry, to spend the weekend with them at their home in Thief River Falls. And off I went.

We really had a blast. Jerry’s a great cook who had a wonderful turkey dinner ready by the time I arrived. This is the first year I’ve tried oyster dressing, and I have to say it was marvelous. There was a slight malfunction with the gravy pan, which upended itself onto the kitchen floor, but Jerry can always make something out of nothing, and came to the rescue with another kind of gravy that was perfect.

(As an aside, I just upgraded my blog features. That is why there are no photos posted, though I do have some funny gravy and other pictures that I’ll share later. I hate upgrades. For me, it always means that I have to learn something new, when the old stuff was working just fine, thank you very much. Why do they always say upgrades are an improvement? When things are going well, don’t change them. The End.)

On Friday of that weekend, April and the kids and I went shopping at thrift stores in Thief River Falls, which was a lot of fun. We visited their very homey library, where I happened to find a book about the Congdon family of Duluth, which seemed like serendipity to me.

Friday night was game night, with dessert-laden friends coming over to the to play games whose names I have forgotten. Jerry’s kids had made 3 kinds of chocolate truffles, which were fabulous, and we had brownies, jello salad, cookies and various other snacks. And fruit,  a tip of the hat to good health, which I avoided. Holidays are holidays.

On Saturday some of us drove to Grand Forks and visited a bunch of thrift shops, an international food market where I could have spent hours, and had dinner at a good Chinese place, where the waiter unfortunately did not understand English, and we did not understand Chinese, but somehow really good food appeared.

On the way to Grand Forks, we stopped at a wonderful huge consignment shop in a town called Red Lake Falls. (Wright’s Everything Consignment. Go see it.) The shop is an endless string of rooms and levels filled with fabulous finds: antiques, new stuff, old stuff, vintage stuff, clothing, jewelry, furniture, household stuff, figurines, paper ephemera, dishes… it went on and on and although I filled up a charming tote bag with holiday gifts, I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff on one level or another. The building was formerly a furniture store, so there were many cavernous floors with steep levels taking you here and there. At times some of the walkways felt more like walls than floors, and I skipped some of the rooms. But if you like junk (and hey: who doesn’t?) it’s well worth the six hour drive.

So on Sunday morning I was happily on my way home, filled with happy holiday memories, thinking that after all the car troubles I’d had the past few weeks, I would Email my sister Kim and say “500 miles without incident!” 94 miles from home, just entering the town of Ball Club on a blue-sky dry pavement day, I hit a patch of black ice at about 60 MPH and before I knew what I’d hit, I flew off Hwy 2 (literally, I think) and landed in a ditch.

When I first felt ice beneath the tires, and that “uh oh” feeling, the car sailed into the oncoming lane. So happy to report nobody was coming, or if they were, they quickly got out of my way. I can not remember. Just as quickly, I was going backwards into the ditch. Did I really feel the steering wheel moving round and round in my hands? I think I did. What I do remember is three distinct and very loud BOOM sounds. One was a road sign that I hit sideways, which still didn’t stop the car. I do not know what the other two were. I remember sailing backwards into the woods, and I remember hitting the brakes.

I’m pretty sure I did everything wrong from the moment I knew I was in trouble. There was little time to think, although I do remember thinking “This is how I’m going to die.”

Happy to report that I did not receive so much as a scratch. Everything inside the car went flying: Water bottles, CDs that had been stored away, quarters that were kept for parking meters, pieces of candy that were in the console. Everything flew. I managed to stay put. (Wear your seat belt, please.)

There is a scene in a funny movie where an actor (Alec Baldwin?) drives woozily through town, hits a streetlight and garbage can, and emerges from his car and says, “Well, that happened.”

I always hoped I could be that calm in the face of trouble. Turns out I’m not. Every joint in my body turned to Jello. I could barely walk on my shaky legs, or open the door with my shaky hands. But I’m grateful I could walk.

Ahead on the highway I saw flashing squad car lights and heard sirens heading in my direction. Apparently I was not the only driver caught unaware that day (thanks for the “CAUTION” signs, by the way) but I think I was one of the lucky ones, who only had to call a tow truck. Two men stopped their car to tell me that I had almost “taken out” the street sign I hit. As if I didn’t know that. “Really?” I might have said. “I wondered what that noise was.” They weren’t much help, though I think they were as shocked as I were after seeing what had happened. They offered a phone but I had one of my own, and somehow managed to dial 911.

A nice dispatcher sent a tow truck my way. The nice tow truck driver suggested we flag down one of the cops on the highway to give an accident report; a thought that had not occurred to me. It wasn’t hard to find the police; they were everywhere, along with an ambulance and some fire trucks. They took my name and phone number, but could not make a report since other people had not fared as well as I had.

I spent the night at a motel in Deer River while my car was towed to Grand Rapids. Two very nice ladies heard my story (and heard the same sirens that I’d heard) and put me in a very nice room (with cable!) for very little money. I think they saw the look on my face (plus my arrival in a tow truck may have given away part of the story) and were very kind to me. I must have looked half crazy to them.

The next day, when I fully expected my car to be ready for the trip home (slow to grasp the obvious) I learned it would be at least a week before the broken tie rod, cracked bumper, dented hood and fender would be repaired, repainted, and ready to go.

My wonderful brother-in-law Lenny drove from Gordon, Wisconsin, to Deer River, MN, in his truck, in the middle of a sudden blizzard, to bring me back to Duluth. When I saw his truck barreling into the parking lot of the motel, I nearly burst into tears. It was like seeing the US Cavalry coming to rescue! And it is so true that there is no place on earth like home. So so so happy to be here.

So that was my Thanksgiving weekend, my “non-traditional” getaway holiday. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take photos of the car (probably would not have found my camera anyway) but it was fixed, my insurance covered repairs and a rental car, and all is (once again) right with the world.

Pictures will follow, though not pictures of the accident. I have some learnin’ to do now that I’ve upgraded, but for now, this is my story and I’m sticking with it, even though I am not going to take time to proofread. I think I dragged this out as long as I can.

Coming soon: New electronics at my house! What’s new at the Little Free Library! Other Stuff!

I know it seemed like I’d abandoned my blog, but I would not.

Thanks for reading.