A Randomly Mathematical Thanksgiving Thursday

It’s Random Thursday time again, even though the little map on my stats page suggests that most of you probably won’t be reading this until Friday, what with all the cooking and carbo-loading and the tryptophan overdosing and dishwashing and so forth.

But that’s okay, since this post isn’t going to be all that random, either.

Jane, my ten-year old, who is addicted to the Youtube offerings of mathemusician Vihart,* showed me this video a couple of days ago:

“That’s perfect!” I said.  “Does she have any side dishes?”

“Sure,” she said, clicking. “There’s Mathed Potatoes . . . ”

” . . . Or a Green Bean Matherole.”

“Wow,” I said. “Let me guess–Pi for dessert?”

“Well . . . Yeah, but that one gets really complicated. I want tau, instead.”

“What’s tau?” I asked, having passed trig by the grace of an extremely generous bell curve.

She grinned.  “TWO pi.”

Tau Pie


*And ASAPScience, MinutePhysics, and, unfortunately, Myfroggystuff, because she likes math and science, but her heart and piggy bank belong to the American Girl® Company.


Poetry Wednesday: A Different Tradition

In the interest of full disclosure, this week’s Poetry Wednesday had me stumped and grumpy.

It’s not that I dislike monologuing about poetry,*and holiday-themed posts are usually a piece of appropriately decorated cake, but at last count, I have 28,100 words left of a Nano-novel—that appears now to be two different novels—most of the Thanksgiving poetry I could find is either cutesy-poo, High Purple Religious,** or not quite in the public domain, and I already shared my favorite pumpkin pie poem last year.

I was thinking about holding a Tryptophan Poetry contest, with a care package of my famous Matzoh Ball Soup as the prize, but I figured those of you who will be overeating in the traditional manner tomorrow evening won’t have the time or energy to write poetry—and I’m not sure about the logistics or legalities of mailing a vat of biologically-based liquid across international or intercontinental borders to those of you for whom tomorrow is just another Thursday.

Luckily, a dear friend*** sent me a poem about a different kind of Thanksgiving tradition that made me laugh out loud one I worked it out.  And then, she not only gave me permission to share it here, but sent me images so I wouldn’t have to do a search.

I am very thankful.

How We Shoot Turkey in These Hills
(Liza Gilbert ©2012)

Black blue dawn
Momma’s awake
swiff swiff swiff
of soft boots on the frozen kitchen floor
She lights the stove and with a
Woosh the morning
has light.

I stay warm in bed
Coiling to spring up.
I am old enough today –
Just old enough –
To shoot today.

With my eyes closed
Poppy don’t know I’m up
And he shakes my shoulder,
says, “Boy”
and my feet hit the floor.

We eat without thinking We think about shooting
I think about shooting.
Momma don’t talk to us
Like normal.
She knows today is different –
That today I’m just old enough

Wooden chairs on wooden floors
Poppy and I push away from the table
and stand.
I walk behind Poppy
out of the cabin
To the shed
To the gun.

It’s an old thing
Like Frankenstein
Pieces put together
Held together
But not very big.

Other boys in these hills
and their poppies
have bigger and newer guns
Guns with all their original
But ours still works
Real good
Fires real good.

I struggle with the old
warped, wood wash bin
Scrubbed clean by me yesterday
Four times as wide as me.
I’m just old enough
But not yet big,
But I get that old wash bin
out in the field where
Poppy wants it.

Right under the life-size
plywood turkey shadow on a post
five foot off the ground

Poppy has the gun set up
On the ground,
The ammo at his side.

I’m hot and flushed and sweaty
Even though dawn ain’t here yet
And it’s icy on the ground.
First-time jitters.

Poppy opens the sackcloth bag
Next to us
An ugly bag
And I now know this is real.

My hands are shaking
But I load the gun
And without a word
When Poppy is ready
We start to fire at the turkey

I forget every year
That the gun ain’t loud
It’s a choked poof –
That’s all.

We fire
And shoot
And fill the wash bin with our
And after a half hour
The sun has the courage
To appear over our gun
and our sack is empty and flat.

Poppy pulls the turkey outta the ground
and I try to lift the wash bin
To carry it home
but it’s too heavy
and I’ll have to get the sled.
Poppy takes the gun and the turkey and
the empty sack and heads home

And I’m proud I have
This responsibility.
When I drag the wash bin home
Poppy’s moved on
to other chores
and the sun’s full high in the sky.

I bring the wash bin to the
back of the house.
I go to tell Momma but
She sees me
Sweaty, red-faced, happy
and just old enough,
and I don’t have to say a word
to Momma.

She’s got most of the
dinner cooking and the smell
is proof she’s the best cook
in these hills.

She puts a hand on my head –
I’m not big yet –
and asks me
“You get those potaters mashed?”
“Yes ma’am”
“Good boy.”


*If I did, I’d quit and start riffing on something else I’m not qualified to parse, like parenting and theoretical physics—Oh, wait . . .

**Not that I don’t grasp the connection between Thanksgiving and giving thanks to a specific entity, or realize that prayers are poetry, too—and often gorgeously resonant poetry, too, regardless of one’s personal belief system—but in my opinion, there should be more middle ground between “I grew a widdle pumpie-kin/I fink I’ll name him Pie” and full-on Smells and Bells Spiritual Obsequience.  Just sayin’.

***That doesn’t really cover how amazing this woman is and how lucky I am that our lives intersected.

Happy Hurty Feet

The following is what I would have posted yesterday, if our Internet provider’s server hadn’t lost a series of boards. But I had a lot of writing time after the family went to bed, so once I managed to un-grit my teeth, it wasn’t all bad.


My feet hurt right now, but it’s a good hurt.

It’s a shopping hurt.

As is our Day After Thanksgiving tradition, the family went to the big crafts show one town over and spent two hours crawling all over it, looking at wood carvings, jewelry, quilts, boxes (lined or unlined), beautiful noisemakers shaped like frogs and crickets, the latest couture for dolls and humans and concrete geese (lined or unlined), dog treats, pens made out of bullets* and spark plugs,** ornaments made out of lightbulbs, garden flowers made out of iron, knitwear made from alpaca and/or emu wool, candles and soap made out of soy and/or goat’s milk and/or emu oil,*** stained glass made out of the usual, and pretty much anything and everything that could possibly be made out of fleece.

I found a great hand-carved wooden Santa for my MIL, who collects them,^ a little box with fairies on it for Sunny, who keeps swiping the one we bought for her sister last year, a fleece hat for Janie, who outgrew hers . . .  and a pair of copper bracelets for me:

One says, I am the Queen of my Decisions and the other says, Delay is not Denial.^^  I think they go very well with the gray rubber one I’ve been wearing lately.

Tonight, turkey soup and homemade bread.  It was going to be matzoh ball soup, but the last person to use the matzoh meal^^^ put the box back with only a tablespoon and a half of meal in it.

I’m going to go put my feet up.

What are you doing with your leftovers?  And if you didn’t eat your body weight in turkey yesterday, the question still stands.


*Nope—bought one last year.

**Yep— bought one this year.  It’s springy!

***Mom and I don’t know how one gets emu oil.  We’re hoping the emuherders just squeeze them gently over a bucket when they’re being fed and let them gambol away, happy and slightly drier than they were.  If we’re wrong, please don’t tell us.

^Or at least, we all give them to her, which amounts to the same thing.

^^Not sure if these are affirmations or warnings—and whether the warnings are directed inward or outward.  Figuring it out should keep me busy for a while . .  .

^^^Yeah, okay, I’m the Queen of my own decisions.  But I’m fine with adding it to my shopping list for later—delay doesn’t mean denial.

Family Visit Random Recap, now in 3D!

My parents are leaving early tomorrow to trek back to Ohio—if they figure out where the kids and I hid their car keys.  Here are just a few highlights of the holiday week:

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a clueless child . . .

Mom and Dad arrived Tuesday night and it took a long time for the kids to settle down enough to sleep.  Unfortunately, Janie and I both had to get up at our usual time on Wednesday to go to our respective half days of school or work.  Janie griped and sniped through the morning until everyone lost patience and I finally got her loaded into the car with her Grandparent Day props, homework, and Angel Shoe Tree gift.

I belted myself in and calmly informed her that she was going to have to remember that other people didn’t know how sleepy she was and that she was going to have to be very careful not to lose her temper and try to be aware of what was going on today.  Her grandparents had come a long way to see her in her skit and she needed to make it a good day for them.  I extracted an agreement, opened the garage door, put the car in reverse and promptly backed into Mom’s car.  Wham.

I drove into the garage, made sure Janie was okay, checked for car damage (there was none*) and went inside.  “Could someone please move the car that I just backed into so Janie and I can leave?”  Because, you know, it wasn’t my fault I hadn’t used the rearview mirror to see if Mom’s bright metallic orange Element was lurking out there.

Mom leapt for her keys, ran out in her slippers, without a coat, and backed her car into the street along the curb.  I backed out, waved in thanks, and left . . . not realizing that I’d automatically closed the garage door as I pulled away.  To get back inside, Mom had to walk all the way around the house to the front door and ring the bell.

Did I mention it was 28°F ?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Garlic turkey with roasted garlic cloves, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, scalloped pearl onions (thanks, Grace), homemade bread, salad, corn pudding, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon and pumpkin ice creams, and what I’m told was a very nice Zinfandel rose from a local winery (thanks again, Grace!).

And turkey soup tonight, which will kill all the leftovers.   Boo-yah.

The Arts & Crafts Show

The day after Thanksgiving, my family heads over to the local Expo Center where we wander from vendor to vendor gazing at all the handmade gifts made by other people’s hands.

The kids were allowed to choose an outfit for one of their dolls and persuaded me to buy them each a scented candle for their rooms—Janie picked birthday cake and Sunny chose peppermint.  I bought one that was labeled snickerdoodle, but smells more like pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting—though I might be projecting, there.

And in one booth, I found this little guy:

Yes, it’s a snowman made of Minnesota fieldstone and iron.**   Just look at that little face!

I adopted him on the spot—and then left him on that spot to pick up later, since he weighs about 30 pounds.  Dad ended up carrying him to the car, since I had Sunny, who was being knocked off her feet by the wind.   I think Dad got the better deal—my armful sneezed in my ear.  Twice.

My mother-in-law says he looks like a pile of ugly potatoes, but I love him and will never take him for granite . . .

The Virus Strikes Again, or a Tangled web

We were going to add to the family tradition by taking the kids to a movie after lunch the day after Thanksgiving.  The kids have been begging at least twice a day each to see Tangled since the first preview hit Youtube and I said, “Oh, wow!  You guys have to see this!”  That was . . . five months and a lot of begging ago.  Rookie mistake.

But I want to see it, too, and it’s the kind of movie we all love.  And it sounded like a good alternative to our usual naps.

Except the virus we all had last week finally hit my mother-in-law Thanksgiving afternoon, so she decided to skip both the holiday dinner and the movie.  And then my Dad started feeling icky the next morning . . and Janie started looking green at the restaurant.

I wasn’t sure if the green was caused by Dad trying to ease his queasy stomach by eating baby calamari,*** her overlarge serving of stir fried mushroom noodles, or the virus . . . until she refused dessert and asked me if we could go to the movie next week.  My little instant gratification junkie doesn’t do next week, so we sped her home with a plastic carsick bag in her hand (I’m not an actual rookie) and put her to bed with the bucket.

And then we all took naps.

Guess you can’t beat tradition.


*Probably because we both have Hondas.  Say what you want about Honda—they don’t screw around when it comes to bumpers.  I was once rear-ended by a full-sized Buick.  The impact threw my Honda Civic Wagon all the way across the intersection, which luckily had no cross traffic at the time.  I drove away with a chip in my right tail light.  The Buick had to be towed.

**Francis Metal Works usually makes remarkably graceful waterfowl in various sizes—two baby geese came home with us, too—but they make special holiday items as well.

*** . . . Yeah.  I know.

Over the River and Through the Woods . . .

 . . . except the grandparents are coming here.   They have about an eight-hour drive, and they’ll be here in two hours.

And I’m typing a blog entry instead of picking up clutter.  I’m typing it while listening to Janie practice piano—honey, slow down.  It’s Jingle Bells, not the running of the bulls—but that’s just an excuse. 

I’ll scrub toilets, bathtubs, dust, vacuum, sweep, wipe down stuff,disinfect potties, and do laundry,* but I’ve accepted that there’s no hiding that a couple of kids live in this house.  Kids who own, among many other things, a library-worth of books, an orphanage of baby dolls, and seventeen Barbies and/or Barbie knockoffs.**  I can control the kidscat, but I cannot eliminate it.

I”ll pick up for people,but not for family. 

This rule means that I tend to adopt people into the clan with a shrug and a smile after only one or two visits—or less.  But I feel even less guilt when  my folks visit, because they not only are fully aware we have kids—and are responsible for fully half of the books and a third of the baby dolls—but visit expressly to see those kids.***  And bring them more stuff.

They’re actually coming up a day early this year to visit Janie’s school for Grandparent’s Day—I’m missing it, since I couldn’t get the morning off, but I’m superfluous anyway—which says a lot about their devotion.  My parents are inhumanly busy, but not too busy to make time for family.  And if that means Mom and Dad don’t have the time to pick up all the clutter from two dogs, five cats, Boy Scout expeditions, cane weaving projects, church doings, and a serious Harlequin romance jones  when we visit . . . well . . .

That’s not such a bad act to follow.

But it’s time to put the kids to bath and bed—not that they’ll drop off before Grandma and Grandpa get here, but it’s the principle of the thing—and maybe get some writing done before they arrive.

I should probably also get my WIP off the dining room table so we can all eat dinner together . . . by tomorrow night at the latest.


*Though my husband does most of it and I’m very, very blessed.  I’m also moderating his comments.  Love you!

**None of which are wearing the eighty-eleven pieces of clothing scattered around two bedrooms, and three of which are at this very moment jammed headfirst between the couch cushions. One is wearing a single, tiny, pink Manolo.

**And the cat, who loves my Dad so much he will not be separated from him for the duration.  Toby pulls this, I’m so neglected and unloved big-eyed expression and  mews like a kitten until Dad tells him what a handsome boy he is—it’s revolting to watch, especially from an eleven-year old, fifteen pound, feline snob.