Thanksgiving for Two

Northwoods Journal

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I made this turkey our first Thanksgiving here, 2001. My sister made the candle holders for us.

I made this turkey our first Thanksgiving here, 2001. My sister made the candle holders for us.

Much warmer sleeping last night!  I couldn’t even leave the electric blanket on!  The only thing that got cold was my head.  I’ve come to understand why they used to wear night caps in the “olden days”!

Mark got up at six but by time he messed with the dogs and the wood burner then got himself bundled up, it was 6:45 before he left for hunting.  I didn’t fall back to sleep sound, I mostly laid their snuggled under the covers and tried to convince myself to get up and face the cold.  I needn’t have worried though, Mark had left the wood burner blazing and it was toasty warm in the living room.  I tried to sit at the dining room table – the one spot I can get any kind of cell signal for my phone – but had to move because I felt like I was being roasted like a turkey!  Mark had also plugged in the harvest tree before he left, so I woke to a warm living room and a glowing tree.

The blue jays were waiting so I hurried to put out the food.  I definitely did hurry because it was a frigid 12 degrees out!  I decided to make myself a treat and instead of my plain coffee, I made myself a “mocha” by adding some hot cocoa mix.  As if I need the extra calories today! LOL  I hadn’t even finished my coffee when Mark returned.  He said the woods were completely quiet this morning, but he did see a golden-crowned kinglet in a mixed flock of birds.  For breakfast he made bacon and French toast made with cinnamon swirl bread.

The pump has thawed out so after breakfast Mark went out to see if he could get water out of the valve at the bottom.  No luck.  It appears the pipe going into the pump is frozen, so he moved the light to see if he can get it to thaw.  Looks like we will definitely be looking into upgrading our pump and well come spring.  We did up the dishes and I joked that the snow water is probably a hundred times cleaner than anything that comes out of our tap anyway!  Our water here is very full of iron and some sort of oily substance.  That’s why we never drink it and had so many empty gallon jugs laying around – from all the drinking water we buy up here!  Even the dogs won’t drink the water here and we bring a big 5 gallon jug from home for them.

Mark’s been a little concerned about our firewood situation, since it’s so cold and we are supposed to come up at the end of January for Sno*Drift.  So he bundled back up to see if he could rustle up some deadfall from the woods.  As soon as he started to put his boots on, the dogs got all riled up, so I bundled up and took them for a walk down the road.  A very fine snow was falling.  I decided to risk going past the boundary markers and was going to walk all the way to the power lines but right before I got there I saw a hunter so turned back around and came home.  Surprisingly the beagles seemed satisfied with that short jaunt and were happy to sack back out on the furniture.  They are used to sleeping all morning while I am at work and today they got out of bed when I did, so I’m sure they are extra-tired, ha ha.

It's hard work being a beagle.

It’s hard work being a beagle.

An exhausted Milo and Ruby.

An exhausted Milo and Ruby.

The blue jays have been devouring every speck of food I put out on the platform feeder, although Mark says they are hoarders and that our woods are probably full of trees filled with peanuts they have stashed away!  I managed to get a few photos this morning by opening the door a crack and hanging my camera out the opening.

Hairy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

One of a half-dozen hungry blue jays.

One of a half-dozen hungry blue jays.

I made a pumpkin cheesecake pudding pie thing for our dessert tonight.  Mark isn’t much on pudding, or Cool Whip, or pie, so it will be a wonder if he eats any of it.  Especially since the only cheesecake flavored pudding mix I could find was sugar-free and he hates anything sugar-free!  He will probably eat a sliver of it, just to placate me.

A week ago whenever anyone asked me about our Thanksgiving plans, I had mixed feelings.  Thanksgiving in the northwoods has been our tradition for 13 years now.  Knowing that none of our kids would be with us this year, made me sad and I questioned if we should still come up.  Yet on the other hand, the thought of not coming up made me sad, too.  So, I was concerned that I may be depressed when the day came, being alone with just Mark and the dogs.  But my spirits have remained high.  How could I be down, surrounded by my precious northwoods with my feathered friends keeping me entertained, my harvest tree glowing and the Christmas lights on the porch?!  It also helps to know that my kids are all surrounded with loved ones and their in-law families.  I am learning, now that my kids are all adults, that we have to develop a “new normal” when it comes to holiday traditions.

Around 2 o’clock Mark tried the water pump and all praise be to Jesus, the water came flowing out of the tap!!  He doesn’t think it will freeze again but we weren’t taking any chances.  We quickly gathered all the empty water jugs and filled them, storing them in the bath tub, just in case!  He also shut off the water pipe to the bathroom. It runs along the wall of the dining area and even though it’s encased in wood, it is still against the outside wall and could easily freeze. Neither one of us wants to deal with frozen, busted or leaky plumbing!  Mark was relieved the water came on, he said he was worried we would run out of snow! 🙂

When Mark headed out for his afternoon hunting, I bundled up and took the dogs for another quick jog up the road.  We went up Stevens Spring and I pushed the boundaries a bit, going all the way to the ATV trail crossing before turning around.  On the way back the dogs pulled me down this little cut-through trail that makes a triangle with Stevens Spring and the two-track back to Sportmens Dam.  I know Mark would be unhappy to know I strayed into the woods, but the entire trail isn’t much more than a hundred yards long and it was filled with good sniffs for the dogs!  We made it back to the road without incident so “all’s well that ends well” as the saying goes.

One of my Thanksgiving traditions is to pull out all my journals – 12 year’s worth now – and read over all my Thanksgiving entries.  I go back in my heart and mind to those years that have passed all too quickly.  Like our first Thanksgiving up here, in 2001, when Nathan, who was only 11 years old at the time, cut his thumb open on Mark’s Swiss army knife and had to be taken to the emergency clinic in town to get stitches.  Or Thanksgiving of 2005, the first time Travis drove his own car up and we had a huge snowstorm.  He had to drive himself home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Mark had to dig his car out of the snow.  I was a nervous wreck until we heard he had arrived home safely. The only hitch was when he got stuck in a traffic jam around Dundee because a small plane had made an emergency landing on the expressway.  And then there was 2007, the first time one of my kids (Travis) couldn’t come for Thanksgiving but we had our soon-to-be-son-in-law with us that year.  Thanksgiving 2011 was the first year we were completely alone for the holiday, but I wasn’t sad because I knew we would be celebrating on Sunday with the entire family.  But when we headed home on Saturday and stopped for gas in town, Mark accidentally filled the truck with diesel and we had to be towed to an auto shop in Lewiston to get the tank drained.  That turned out to be a $400 mistake!  I also realized, reading over all those entries, that water pump problems have been almost a yearly experience!

Of course, I couldn’t remain in the past forever.  This year’s Thanksgiving dinner needed to be prepared.  I made lemon and rosemary chicken breasts with roasted red potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a boxed stuffing that I jazzed up with some chicken broth, chopped apples, toasted walnuts and craisins.  Mark was hungry when he came in from hunting, which was a good thing.  Even though I tried to scale back, it was still way too much food for two people!

It seems bizarre to be thankful for the ability to wash the dishes, but I was!  Since Thanksgiving dinner was over, I could break out the Christmas music without guilt.  I got out my Kindle and played my favorite Christmas album from my childhood – Hank Thompson’s “It’s Christmas Time” which has my all-time favorite Christmas song, “I’d Like to Have an Elephant for Christmas”.  (A million times better than that stupid hippo song!)

The rest of the evening was very quiet.  I finished the book I was reading (review soon to come) and Mark worked his puzzle book.  I was surprised when he asked for dessert!  After dessert it was time for washing up and tucking ourselves into bed.  I counted my blessings and running water was among them!

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2 Responses to Thanksgiving for Two

  1. I enjoy reading your journal, but there are times when I feel like a peeping Tom while doing so.


  2. 🙂 Just think of it as spending a little time sitting around our table gabbing with us about the woods, birds and trails!


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