leftovers . . . (and a few other morsels besides)
the dishes are mostly done––except for a few errant goblets. the cutting board is oiled and tucked away for a well-deserved slumber. the beds at the top of the stairs are finally all full, and certainly rumpled. (a triple delay between newark and o’hare made me wonder if boy No. 1 would ever get home.) along the day, no one got cut, or burned, or splashed with red wine, and other than bellies too full, we escaped without harms.
it was in fact as hilarious and raucous and savorable a day as ever could be––testament to julian of norwich’s promise that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (i need to inscribe that on my kitchen wall, as i fret and perseverate and plot and re-plot my time charts and checklists, clocked to the quarter hour.)
my prayer is that your day, too, rolled out without a hitch. or at least no unfixable hitches. i know there were empty chairs, and hollowed hearts to go with them. i know some forsook big birds, and all the fussing. but deep down i hope a trickle of grace and gratitude slipped in through one of the cracks.
while the rest of the world races to the mall, or speed dials black-friday shopping deals on their keypads and phones, i’m taking to the woods, or the simple turning of pages. and i’m leaving just a few morsels here.
poets corner: first up, from ross gay, the bloomington, indiana-based poet whose “catalog of unabashed gratitude” is a fine place to begin:
“And thank you, too. And thanks
for the corduroy couch I have put you on.
Put your feet up. Here’s a light blanket,
a pillow, dear one,
for I can feel this is going to be long.
I can’t stop
my gratitude, which includes, dear reader,
you, for staying here with me,
for moving your lips just so as I speak.
Here is a cup of tea. I have spooned honey into it.”
nature beat: once upon a time in november of 1947, a poet by the name of jack kerouac sat at his mother’s kitchen table in the working-class ‘hood of ozone park in new york city. he’d just coined the term “beat,” (a word in which he saw double meaning, derived from both “beaten-down” but also “beatitude”), and while waiting to see if he might ever get anything published, he unleashed these lines on november’s harsh winds and inked them into his journal (posthumously published as Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947–1954):
Powerful winds that crack the boughs of November! — and the bright calm sun, untouched by the furies of the earth, abandoning the earth to darkness, and wild forlornness, and night, as men shiver in their coats and hurry home. And then the lights of home glowing in those desolate deeps. There are the stars, though! high and sparkling in a spiritual firmament. We will walk in the windsweeps, gloating in the envelopment of ourselves, seeking the sudden grinning intelligence of humanity below these abysmal beauties. Now the roaring midnight fury and the creaking of our hinges and windows, now the winter, now the understanding of the earth and our being on it: this drama of enigmas and double-depths and sorrows and grave joys, these human things in the elemental vastness of the windblown world.Jack Kerouac, 1947
storybook corner: i stumbled onto a wonder from nobel-prize winning polish novelist olga tokarczuk the other day, a mostly-picture book titled the lost soul. it’s the tenderest story of a man who’s lost his soul, and in the whole book there are only four pages of text (and three of those are barely a few lines long). the story picks up here:
“once upon a time there was a man who worked very hard and very quickly, and who had left his soul behind him long ago.” a paragraph later we find that “during one of his many journeys, the man awoke in the middle of the night in his hotel room and he couldn’t breathe. . .”
he visits a wise, old doctor who tells him: “if someone looked down on us from above, they’d see that the world is full of people running about in a hurry, sweating and very tired, and their lost souls, always left behind, unable to keep up with their owners. the result is great confusion as the souls lose their heads and the people cease to have hearts. the souls know they’ve lost their owners, but most of the people don’t realize that they’ve lost their own souls.”
the wise old doctor’s prescription: “you must find a place of your own, sit there quietly, and wait for your soul.”
and so the man waits. and waits. and waits some more. and with nary another word, we finally see his soul come knocking at the door of a little cottage on the edge of the city, where the man had gone to sit in pure quiet.
and here’s the happy ending: “from then on they lived happily ever after, and john (the man) was very careful not to do anything too fast, so that his soul could always keep up with him. he did another thing too––he buried all his watches and suitcases in the garden. the watches grew into beautiful flowers that looked like bells, in various colors, while the suitcases sprouted into great big pumpkins, which provided john with food through all the peaceful winters that followed.
and may this day in the wake of so much blessing be filled to the brim with the pure joy of savoring –– all without timetables, and stopwatches, and sinks to be scoured.
which will be the first leftover you sink your fork into???
‘the wise old doctor’s prescription: “you must find a place of your own, sit there quietly, and wait for your soul.”’ Omg omg omg…yes. Waiting and waiting…
Meanwhile, looking at the ⭐️ ⭐️ 🌟 and the 🌙 .
you eye-spied exactly the parts that most star-struck me. xoxoxo
Pommes boulangère, the remaining 1 1/2 servings of a big baking pan I took to a bring a dish/beverage/instrument potluck and jam session of some friends in the country between Sunset and Opelousas.
Sounds delicious, and very much “of the land.” Being in the country sounds mighty fine too. I imagine the tunes stirred some soul…..(sending love from the couch where all the boys are gathered to watch World Cup…)
Leftovers? A few extra people quite unexpectedly accepted my previously rejected invitation. Plans change, and it was fine, but the turkey was already purchased. There was plenty of food for everyone, but the very few leftovers went home with son #3. All I have is a small bowl of mashed potatoes which I’m saving for a roast on Sunday. I felt a huge sense of freedom when I realized I wouldn’t have to find room in the refrigerator for all of those leftovers, but then I realized I need to cook again tonight. 🙂
The four-dimensional calculus required to fit all our leftovers in the fridge makes me a wee bit envious of spare leftovers, but I did just witness the most amazing towering of leftovers into open faced brioche-mashed potato-Turkey hash-baby pea- cranberry-orange-gravy sandwiches!!!
Thank you, dear bam, for these beautiful words, both your own and those of other wordsmiths that you’ve shared with us. I loved the lost soul excerpt, so simple and profound.
Our home was full of sweetness as two of our four were here, the oldest two, those who’s homes are a drivable distance away. Son #1, Ben, will be turning 41 in a week, and we traditionally celebrate his birthday on the day before Thanksgiving, and always have my traditional chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, at “porch temp”, the coolness that comes from having a December birthday and a mom who keeps your frosted cake on the screened porch till it’s time to sing. Ben and his lovely wife Carrie came with our youngest grandchild, one-year-old Henry, which added such a touch of wonder and whimsy to our time together. Daughter #1, Claire, rounded out our group and added her own sweet and sassy style. They all left by noon today, driving their three to four hour treks home, laden with insulated totes of all of the mom-goodies, packed to enjoy all weekend.
The only thing that wasn’t accomplished, due to the un-plannable schedules that come with a baby in the midst, is the reading of our “thankful slips”, a decades-old tradition of filling out slips of paper throughout the early part of Thanksgiving, with three things we’re grateful for, specific to that year. Then comes folding them up and placing them in a small lidded ceramic pot, which is passed around the table after dinner. Each person draws out a slip, reads it out loud, as we guess who the author is, and chat a bit about the content. That always leads to a lovely half hour of sharing together, which is one of my favorite parts of the day. This year, with an exhausted baby needing to be readied for bed, that little jar of gratitude slips was never emptied, so my plan is to save them for Christmas, and share our thankfulness a month from today. We’ve been doing this tradition since our children had to draw pictures of their choices of thankfulness, since writing wasn’t yet a learned skill. I’ve saved all of the slips through the years, bundling them up, labeling with the year, and treasuring every little scrawl of home, of food, of pets, and every mention of new jobs, of good health, of relationships, of life’s blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving, bam. I know how full your heart is with those two precious blessings right upstairs, under your roof.
ahhh, B. i feel your words being propelled by the silence and ache that comes after the crowd last pulls out the drive. i know that silence will come to my house too, but oh it must have been bustling while it unfolded. love all the tradition you’ve folded into this morsel of your own: the porch cake, the thankful slips (i like the idea of writing them down ahead of time, and simply reading at the table; a bit less intimidating than off-the-cuff gratitudes. and i think your idea to save for christmas only sweetens the pot. thank you much for meandering by the ol’ kitchen table. i’m glad we were here for you, as you put away the dishes, sweep up the last of the crumbs, and begin counting toward the next bustling full kitchen. xoxox
Barbie, I’m crossing my fingers that this week’s reply reaches you. I didn’t realize until today that what I wrote last week never attached so Amy, my belated condolences to you on the loss of your dad. Barbie’s description of him made me smile. I wish that I’d found my way to the table sooner so that I could have read what you‘d shared about him.
Barbie, your Thanksgiving turned out to be the kind that I love best, a table filled with loved ones giving thanks for the bounty before them. My husband and I had a very quiet Thanksgiving this year but made the best of it. (He did all the cooking and I did all the eating.) I’ve been having a difficult time, however, feeling grateful this year because both my uncle and a dear friend passed away un-expectantly on Thanksgiving day. It kind of knocked me into “stun mode”, and I haven’t been able to shake off the emptiness. Thus I resonantly identified with the story of the lost soul-thanks so much for sharing it with us. Because of it I’m sitting here quietly, waiting and watching for mine to return so that I can feel whole again.
oh, sweetheart, i am sooo sorry. i am going to hope and pray that any minute now your soul comes tapping at your window pane and rejoins you. unexpected losses are so, so breathtakingly hard. and i am so so sorry. xoxo