Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How I Amused My Muse This Thanksgiving

Whew! Didn't get much writing done during over Thanksgiving break, but not putting fingers to keyboard was a good trade off for an action-packed weekend that's sure to amuse my muse for years to come.

For the holiday we traveled over the river, through the woods, and past hundreds of acres of corn fields to visit P's folks near Springfield, Illinois. After three-plus hours on the road Wednesday evening, and a dinner break at the Bloomington-Normal Steak N Shake, we arrived with enough time to stretch our legs, visit, and introduce Jewel to Truman, the newest member of the household.

Truman is an eight-years-young wire-haired terrier. P's dad adopted him in October from a rescue organization in Minneapolis. The dog's a gem. He knows how to beg, sit, stay, roll over and play dead. He even heels without prompting. But despite his fine breeding, he resented E's service dog Jewel entering the house..which made for an interesting evening.

The next morning, P's dad came up with the idea of holding onto Jewel's leash, showing he was in control of the situation. Once Truman saw that P's dad was in charge of the interloper, he relaxed enough to tolerate Jewel as long as she kept her distance. By midday he allowed her to explore the house and prance about, but made it known he'd rather lay about, and don't push him to do otherwise or suffer the consequences, thank you very much. Here's what amused my muse: Jewel's three times the size of Truman, yet she gave him his distance. Watching the two dogs work out their differences was a fascinating, dog-whisperer type situation. Thankfully, Jewel was willing to step aside from the alpha dog roll she assumes at our house. Amazing how the pack mentality kicks in so quickly.

For Thanksgiving dinner, P's dad did all the planning, prep and cooking. Midafternoon, we gathered around the table for a feast of honey-crusted ham, turkey breast, creamy ranch potatoes, green bean casserole, two different kinds of jello molds--one with walnuts, celery and apple slices, the other with pineapple, corn casserole in honor of B (P's brother who passed away six years ago), pumpkin pie, and more I'm certain I've forgotten. As always the visit was great fun, but too short.

We returned midafternoon Friday with enough time for our oldest E to connect with The Boys (the name she's given the group of nine-plus boy friends who adopted her as one of their own her senior year of high school) for a feast, a game of capture the flag, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Saturday our family headed to the mall for a family picture, something we haven't had the time, energy or health to do since before E's aneurysm rupture six years ago. Feels good doing something so mundane and ordinary. Feels as if we've finally come full circle.

Current read: Deborah Wile's Each Little Bird that Sings. It's lovely, and takes on difficult topics--death and grief--with grace and humor. I can see now why it was nominated for a National Book Award. And I have to say that having the opportunity to meet Deb and listen to her speak at Vermont College during my MFA program (and hearing the inside story of how the book came to be) gives her story that much more power and depth.

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