A punny version of the First Thanksgiving

Following is an account of the First Thanksgiving as recorded by a very punny Pilgrim writer:

It was early morning of the great feast. Pilgrim women had been busy in the main cabin before sunrise, dashing about, peeling potatoes, turnips and apples and monitoring food in the fireplace, when one was heard to say, “Hard to be-leaf it’s already Thanksgiving.”

A cackle of laughter ensued, greatly encouraging other pun meisters.

“Pumpkin sure smells good in here!”

Being that one good pun deserves another, a woman holding a handful of turkey feathers said, “We’re plucky to assemble a feast so fine this year.”

“Poultry in motion,” sang out another.

“But can we pull it off?” cried a weary soul.

“Yes, we pecan!” came a resounding chorus.

“Is anyone keeping thyme?” asked another.

“We’ve got this, ladies—we’re going to give them pumpkin to talk about!”

Yes, they were the sort of women who bake the world a better place. They were strong, stalwart and not ones to take the path of yeast resistance.

After hours and hours of preparation, last but not feast, the women paraded the dishes to the tables.

“Y’all bready for this?”

There came an array of fruits, vegetables, hot dishes, cold dishes, fish, venison, and wild game. It was, quite simply, a gourd-geous spread.

The guests oohed and aahed. “You aint seen stuffin’ yet!” cried a robust Pilgrim woman.

The tables creaked under the weight of the bounty. Governor William Bradford announced there would be no fowl talk or getting sauced and said a blessing, and the feasting commenced.

It quickly became obvious that the candied sweet potatoes were going untouched. This was not unexpected – silence of the yams.

“Anymore rolls?” inquired one of the guests.

“You butter believe it.”

An altercation broke out between two Pilgrim families at the end of the table. “Squash the family drama!” Bradford yelled.

Family members didn’t always see pie-to-pie, but they did love a feast.

Meanwhile, at the edge of the forest, a young pilgrim boy whispered into a pilgrim girl’s ear, “Stuffin’ compares to you.”

To which she responded, “I’ve had a crust on you.”

Back at the table, hosts made the rounds with a decanter asking, “Wine not have another glass?”

It was eat, drink and cranberry.

Then it was time for dessert: Do or pie.

A chief took a serving of pumpkin, pecan and apple, nodded his thanks and said, “Piece out.”

Three days later, the feast was finally over. Leftovers were wrapped and sent home with the guests and plates and gobble-lets were washed, dried and put away.

The pilgrims all joined hands, said a prayer of thanks, raised their arms to the sky and shouted, “Whip, whip, hooray! Corn in the USA!”

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Something suspicious about my new popularity

My number of new friends has exploded in recent weeks. All of a sudden I’m incredibly popular. It’s staggering.

Letters fill the mailbox every afternoon, texts ding on my phone and, oh, the emails. My inbox overfloweth.

“I need you!” a new friend says.

“I want you!” another new friend says.

“I’m married!” I say.

All this fawning is embarrassing.


“I can’t do this without you.”

Do what? We’ve never met! Who are you? Did our kids go to school together? Did you live in the neighborhood 20 years ago?

The pleading continues, “I’m counting on you.”

My new friends often ask for money. It seems like an odd way to connect.

Today I had an email from a new friend asking for one dollar. I wonder where my new friend lives that a dollar is worth anything. Asking for one dollar makes absolutely no financial sense. What is this guy? A congressman?

Then there is the request that says, “I don’t need your money! I just need your signature.”

Obviously, the sender has never seen my handwriting. My own mother told me to never write to her in cursive.

Who are these people?

The last time I had a huge uptick like this in new friends was back in the fall of 2020. It was nice to feel needed. All the concern and care were overwhelming. Yes, they all did want money. We were “working together, forging a future, building partnership.”

Then the election was over, and my would-be partners went silent. My friends never wrote, never texted, never called. To think we’d been so close; then just like that, I was tossed aside.

I felt so used.

Just now an email arrived saying, “Lori, Ohio is in trouble!”

I haven’t been to Ohio in two years! Don’t blame Ohio’s trouble on me.

Unfortunately, a few of my new best friends are high pressure and I don’t appreciate it: “You have until midnight.” Or what? My car turns into a pumpkin? I lose a glass slipper?

Yesterday, and this is the truth, I had 29 emails from new best friends between 9 a.m. and noon. My new best friends are very needy.

The most bizarre message was virtually pleading: “I’m asking you to . . . ACT.”

I don’t act. I don’t sing either.

But I do make good lasagna. And I excel at unsubscribing.

 

 

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Sharing the dirt on guest towels

I’m on the fence about using a guest towel in someone else’s home.

I only mention this because my sister-in-law, one of our daughters, and several close friends routinely keep paper guest towels in their bathrooms.


It’s an identity crisis of sorts. I see the pretty paper guest towels and ask myself, “Am I a guest or am I family?”

Is family ever a guest, and is a guest ever like family?

If my good friend notices a used pretty paper guest towel in the bathroom trash, will she think we’re not close friends after all?

There I stand, water running down my arms, soaking my sleeves, pondering how to dry.

To towel or not to towel, that is the question.

Tell you what is out of the question – those air dryers in public restrooms that sound like jet engines on takeoff. They’re so deafening that nobody stays until their hands are dry.

Yes, I do know there’s a war going on, but sometimes pondering banal matters of life can extend your sanity for a few more minutes.

The whole guest towel dilemma is complicated by the pretty factor. I like looking at the pretty paper guest towels; I’m just not sure I should use them.

Why use something so lovely when you can just shake your hands over the sink (sorry about splattering the mirror) then pat them dry them on your pants? Hand towels, pants towels. I’ve learned a lot from all these grandkids.

Years ago, I bought some pretty holiday guest towels that were on clearance.  They featured a pretty little snow scene with reindeer and a sleigh. Year after year, I put them out and nobody touched them. Each year I inched them closer and closer to the sink in case the message wasn’t clear.

The grew so old the edges were curling, so I snatched one up and used it for cleaning.  Santa was working double duty– delivering presents and doing windows.

My mother kept guest towels in the bathroom. She didn’t grow up fancy, and we didn’t grow up fancy, it was just a touch of loveliness. The pretty paper towels sat in a little metal holder and, of course, whenever we went for a stay, the kids raced to the bathroom to wash their hands.

“Don’t touch those – they’re for Grandma’s guests!”

“We’re Grandma’s guests!”

“No, you’re not guests! You’re family!”

I bought some pretty guest towels this fall. Fall leaves, acorns, you get the picture.

I was about to wash my hands in the bathroom that all our grands use. I looked at my paper guest towels, then at the cotton hand towel hanging all bunched up, dripping water, smeared with dirt and grime and who knows what else.

I was suddenly feeling like a guest in my own home.

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Family vacations both trick and treat

For six years running, our brood has met up for a long weekend somewhere in the fall. Such intense togetherness not only builds character but creates a wonderful treasury of embarrassing stories to repeat at holiday gatherings.

This year, unpacking at a lake house in Michigan that we rented for three days, a five-year-old grand opens her little suitcase and screams upon discovering roaches covering her clothes. Her mother lunges forward and sees the roaches are plastic—but fantastic lookalikes for the real thing.

Rolling my bag into the room where my husband and I will stay, I notice a six-foot snakeskin draped across the bed pillows. I turn to our 12-year-old grandson lingering in the doorway and say, “Rat snake? I like it!”

Clearly, he had hoped for a more terrifying reaction. He forgets I helped raise his father.

“Why not put the snakeskin with your plastic roaches?” I ask.

The yard behind the house slopes to a lake with a narrow ribbon of sandy beach. Trees ring the lake with crimson, yellow and orange splashed against a deep blue sky.

A son-in-law and herd of kids race down the hill and into the cold water for a polar plunge. This is followed by screaming, chest thumping and fist pumping.

The youngest ones prefer adventures with more sedate adults in a pedal boat trolling close to shore, collecting tiny shells that look like former homes to miniature snails. These treasures will be found throughout our stay, piled on kitchen counters, the dinner table and beside every bathroom sink.

There is a steady back and forth of pedal boats and kayaks leaving and returning at the water’s edge. It is the first time kayaking for one brave soul. She recently turned 8, is diminutive in size, but undaunted in spirit. She watched the others come and go when we were here several years ago. Now it is her turn.

She straps on a life jacket, climbs in a red kayak, grasps the paddles and someone gives her a shove. Just like that – she’s off. And that’s exactly how it will happen. The younger ones will watch the older ones spread their wings, leave home, fan out, and then do likewise. No doubt that day will arrive with jaw-dropping speed.

On our last afternoon at the lake, four of us are out in kayaks, myself and the older grands. They glide through the water with grace and speed.

Day draws to a close, the sun sinks and twilight yields to dusk. A dad voice on shore shouts, “Time to come in.”

I catch myself before shouting back, “Can’t we stay out a little longer?” I’m the classic over-indulged birthday girl who doesn’t want the party to end.

I can’t contradict one of the dads, but I can paddle slower, soaking in the sights and sounds, etching them into my memory.

We returned home and have resumed our regular routines. But each day I find a part of me still on that lake as evening falls, gazing at the strapping young adults paddling in front of me, silhouetted against the last remnants of light, gliding, gliding, farther and farther away.

I don’t know when that day is coming, but I do know this: Today is a good day.

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The lighter side of aging

Someone once said, “With age comes wisdom.”

Then someone else immediately said, “Yeah, but sometimes age comes alone.”

My experience is that with age comes usefulness.

A granddaughter, anxious to pass me in height, frequently “measures up” with me by standing nose-to-nose to see who is the tallest. She “measured up” the other day and announced, “I now come to the second line on Grandma’s forehead!”

I knew there was a reason I don’t get Botox. It’s good to feel needed.

One day, helping first-grade English-as-second-language students with reading, I could see that the little Burmese boy following my finger as I pointed to words was intently studying the back of my hand.

I lifted my hand with aging skin, pointed to it and slowly said, “Wrinkles. Wrinkles.”

He repeated after me, “Wrinkles.” He grinned from ear to ear and his eyes lit up learning a new word.

It is wonderful to be helpful, although this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

I’ve always had curly hair and it has become even curlier with age. Recently, a granddaughter asked, “Grandma, if you let your hair grow really, really long, would it hang down straight or just get bigger and bigger?”

The latter, darlin’. I’ll cite Dolly Parton on this one: “Big hair puts you closer to God.” How wonderful to be consulted on something like the potential trajectory of curly hair.

I think.

With age also comes the distinct advantage of not only having read a lot of history, but of having lived a lot of history.

No, I did not personally know George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or help build the Panama Canal, but I can tell you about telephones that hung on kitchen walls, milkmen who delivered milk to your front door, ketchup that came in glass bottles, record players, June, July and August heat without air conditioning and a summer job I had in college doing data entry that fed into a computer so enormous it took up an entire room.

Due to age, I am frequently the go-to person for an assist on Jumble word puzzles. Far be it from me to ruin the cloud of adulation by explaining I excel at Jumble because I have made so many typos over the years that every misspelled word looks vaguely familiar.

By far, the greatest laurel of “maturing” is having rushed around like a madwoman to get a meal on the table for a large group, being seated at the table and hearing a gentle voice say, “You’re a good cook, Grandma.”

Then another and another and another says, “You’re a good cook, Grandma.” It may be that I am a good cook, but it also may be that no one at the table wants to be outdone. If competition is the means by which I am showered with praise, then so be it.  I accept.

 

 

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Shopping like a Super Bowl champ

I never dreamed my life would one day intersect with a two-time Super Bowl champion, but it does.

Patrick Mahomes. Who knew we had so much in common?

He plays for Kansas City; I lived in Kansas City.

His favorite color is red; my favorite color is red.

He has curly hair; I have curly hair.

We both do a lot of screaming and jumping up and down whenever the Chiefs play.

Some days I almost wonder if we were separated at birth. Yes, there is that 40 year age difference.

He likes Subway; I like Subway. Judging from how often I see him in commercials, Mahomes spends a lot of time in Subways. We have a Subway in a strip mall nearby. I glance in the window every time I pass by just in case he’s there.

Mahomes also enjoys talking about insurance, mainly State Farm. What are the odds? We talk about insurance a lot, too. Mahomes has an old mind for a young guy. I’m waiting for when he partners with Vanguard to promote IRA accounts and does a two-minute humorous tutorial explaining RMDs.

Fist bump! Blow it up!

I’ve long bought Red Gold ketchup. We live in Indiana and Red Gold is a local company, but I may be wavering. Hunts is looking good. When you can trust a guy on colors, football, subs and insurance savvy, he could be onto something about ketchup as well.

Get ready for this: If we need to watch a game on ESPN, we open our (drum roll, please) DirectTV app. Guess who does commercials for DirectTV?


High five, baby!

Whodathunkit?

Mahomes also does endorsements for Head & Shoulders. Is this insane, or what? A blue and white bottle sits in the linen closet as I keyboard!

Our cell phone carrier? Yep. The one Mahomes does endorsements for— T-Mobile. What are the odds?

Everywhere he is, we are; and everywhere we are, he is.

Tell you what, I like his mom, too. Day one, she lined out a member of the press corps saying her son’s name was not Pat, but Patrick. Love that woman.

Mahomes also endorses Hy-Vee grocery stores. The young man has good taste. Hy-Vee is primarily a Midwest grocery chain. Whenever we venture back to Kansas City, I always find a reason to wander through a Hy-Vee. It’s usually to buy briskets to throw in a cooler and take back home. Well, that and a chance to see Mahomes.

Hy-Vee produce sections are works of art. Store lighting is fantastic and they have high ceilings. You could throw a football from the deli area clear over to the dairy case and have a clear pathway. (Just an idea, guys, take it or leave it.)

We’re not in sync on everything. I don’t wear Adidas shoes, drink Essentia water or have any Oakley sunglasses. Maybe with a few more endorsements I could be persuaded.

Speaking of endorsements, I know a columnist . . .

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Enough itching, mosquito magnets unite

There are two types of people in this world: those whom mosquitoes consider an all-you-can-eat buffet and those whom mosquitoes find repugnant.

I have a body that mosquitos love. I suppose it is nice to think your physical being is still attractive at this age, even if it is to insects.

I only became a mosquito magnet two years ago. Prior to that they’d loop me once or twice, then beeline for a better smorgasbord. I used to think the people mosquitos feasted on complained excessively.

Now that I have become one of those people, I think such people are brave and strong and admirable. Mosquito magnets unite!

For the past four nights, I’ve awakened with my ankles itching madly from mosquito bites. We have grands that scratch mosquito bites until they bleed. If I thought that would stop the itching, I’d do it.

I stagger from bed and begin hunting for the After-Bite, hydrocortisone and Benadryl topical cream. It’s a “hit ‘em with all you got” approach. It helps. For about 10 minutes.

Recently, I attended an outdoor event and made the mistake of wearing strappy sandals. The mosquitoes went for the bottom of my feet. I tried scrataching the bottom of one foot with the shoe on my other foot. I glanced around and realized everyone could see everyone else’s feet under the tables. I was the only one playing footsies with myself.

I saw a slab of concrete and thought if I could just drag the bottom of my foot across it, the itch would settle down. It was a possibility without opportunity.

A Pfizer study found that mosquitoes are drawn to three types of people who have a high metabolic rate and emit more carbon dioxide: those who are pregnant, working out, or drinking alcohol.

My last pregnancy was 38 years ago. I drink alcohol about once a year. I do work out. Wouldn’t it be something if mosquitoes forced me to quit working out? Oh well.  A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.

Yesterday, two mosquitoes followed me inside. I have a touch-screen laptop where you can trigger functions by simply touching icons on the screen. One of the mosquitoes landed on the screen. I tried to smash it with my finger and accidentally sent some financial records to the trash.

The mosquitoes high-fived each other and laughed.

“We’ll see who’s laughing when I quit working out!” I yelled.

In the meantime, I’m covering every inch of skin, wearing long pants, a long- sleeved shirt with the collar pulled up around my neck, socks, tennis shoes and a hat. I have sprayed one kind of insect repellant on my skin and another on my clothes. I smell like a tiki torch and look like one, too.

My husband just asked where I was going.

“Outside,” I said.

“Feeding the mosquitoes again, eh?”

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How to succeed at consulting without really trying

Nine months ago, my brother retired. If you want to get technical, he went to lunch and never went back.

Now he is launching a second career. We only know about this because my sister-in-law was with him when he filled out a preregistration form at an eye doctor’s office.

My sister-in-law is a saint.

The form asked for his occupation. He entered “consultant.”

My brother has never worn a white shirt and tie to work, sat behind a desk, or chatted up CEOs a single day in his life. Such a job would kill him. It wouldn’t be particularly healthy for those around him either.

As he filled out the registration, my sister-in-law asked exactly when he became a consultant. “Just now,” he said.

She asked what he does as a consultant to which he replied, “Whaddya need?”

He also said he would not further discuss the nature of his consulting until they first agreed on a fee.

A consultant is someone who has expertise and experience in a field, or numerous fields, and is willing to share insights and suggestions with others in need of advisement.

Upon hearing my brother has become a consultant, I realized that for years now, I, too, have benefited from the expertise of a consultant who shall remain nameless. Much of the time, I don’t even have to ask for a consultation; ideas and suggestions just roll like the mighty Mississippi.

Fortunately, my consultant does not charge a fee. Then again, if my consultant did charge a fee, I would refuse to pay it and maybe all the unsolicited consulting would screech to a halt.

Doubtful.

As one good consult deserves another, I often counter-consult with my own suggestions, insights and commentary on projects my consultant is working on, ideas on how he might improve what he is doing. All of this is offered without him even having to ask for a consult. That’s just how willing and eager I am to be of assistance.

There is a lot of consulting and counter-consulting that goes on in this house, and neither one of us would be willing to pay one thin dime for all the free advice.

I mean consulting.

Naturally, my sister-in-law’s concern was what would happen if the doctor looked at my brother’s “occupation” and inquired as to what sort of consultant he was. On second thought, she knew it wouldn’t go far because he would first require the doctor pay a consulting fee.

 

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Basic manners are seldom overrated

We are past due for a review of basic manners and civic responsibility.

Such reviews used to happen every nine weeks when schools sent report cards home. At the bottom of the report card was a box titled “Citizenship.” Teachers placed check marks indicating “satisfactory” or “needs improvement” for categories like: courtesy, self-control, works well with others, and shows respect for rights and property of others.

As if the national headlines aren’t enough to warrant revisiting common courtesy and personal responsibility, I was again reminded of the need while scrolling through my NextDoor app, which is sometimes useful for knowing the best company in the area for cleaning dryer vents or removing trees, and recommendations for dentists and doctors.

But this day on my feed was a video of a little old lady walking her dog. She paused, looked over her shoulder and waited for a car to pass by, then shook the contents of her doggie’s plastic bag onto a neighbor’s driveway and scurried away.

A few days later, there was a video of a young man (or “little jerk” as the homeowner referred to him) stealing a bike from an open garage. In both cases, comments were filled with outrage along the lines of: “What’s the matter with people?” “Is that old lady crazy or evil?” “Doesn’t that kid have any respect for other people’s property?”

On the old report cards, citizenship was divided into two parts: citizenship as an individual and as a member of a group. Evaluation as an individual included: makes good use of time and material, depends upon self, shows self-control and does his best.

If I were wielding the black ink pen, I would give the little old lady “needs improvement” on making good use of time and material—although she did make good use of time as she was swift about dumping the doggie bag.

The young man stealing the bike might rate “satisfactory” in “depending upon self” as he worked alone; but he bombed in “shows self-control.”

It’s what you do when you think no one is watching that constitutes character.

Of course, these days we are so lapsed in judgment that some people enjoy recording themselves, or others, behaving like Cretans.

The outlook darkens considerably under “citizenship as member of a group.” The little old lady and bike thief both get “needs improving” for “respects rights and property of others.”

It’s interesting that the evaluations started with citizenship as individuals, followed by evaluation in a group. You can’t experience the stability of good citizenship as a group unless you first have it as individuals.

Where do people learn basic courtesy, self-control and respect for the rights and property of others? Where all learning begins—in the home and in the family.

Because there will be no report card coming in the next nine weeks evaluating our personal behavior, some self-evaluation on civility and citizenship might be in order in our homes and families. Satisfactory or needs improvement?

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On the count of three, everybody lift

This is one of those situations for which you could never fully prepare.

We are waiting for a grocery pickup order. Our oldest daughter, who has been pulling carpet from stairs, is slumped in the driver’s seat riddled with exhaustion. I’m in the front passenger seat, offering commentary on the happenings around us, and three granddaughters in the middle seat of the SUV are downing dried fruit snacks that taste like the sole of your shoe.

Other cars have wheeled into numbered parking spots, received their orders, and peeled out. Our daughter says she hopes someone comes soon, as the order contains conditioner, and her hair is a wreck.

I suggest she lean her head out the window so they can see what a mess her hair is and maybe that will speed things up.

Just then, a soft voice from behind says, “Grandma, I need help.”

I look over my shoulder and the 11-year-old, the most peaceful, pliable one in the group, appears to be levitating.

She is in a plank-on-your-side position, her head extended toward one car window and her feet toward the other, hovering just below the top of the middle seats.

“I’m stuck,” she says, giggling.

“What do you mean?”

“I stretched over the seat to get something from the far back and I think the belt loop from my jeans is stuck in part of the shoulder strap.

“Girls, free your sister!” I snap.

Arms and legs fly, accompanied by shrieking, screaming and laughing.

“We can’t get her free!” one shouts.

I lunge between the two front seats and into the middle seat for a closer look. Her belt loop has slipped between a small opening on a plastic guide piece harnessing a shoulder strap to a middle seat. The weight of her body is pulling the belt loop impossibly taut in the plastic guide piece.

I announce that on the count of three I will lift her, which will take the pressure off the belt loop, whereupon her sisters should dislodge the belt loop from the plastic guide.

As planned, I lift her.

As not planned, I can’t hold her. I drop her. But gently.

More screaming and laughing. “Lift her again, only longer. We need more time!”

I lift her again and drop her again.

“What do you weigh, girl?”

“Seventy-five!” she says.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but it feels like a whole lot more!”

The jeans have twisted and pulled so tight the child will probably have rug burn on the weight-bearing side of her torso.

We regroup and take another run at the mess. “I’ll put one knee under her, you two lift from your ends. It should lessen the tension enough to get the belt loop out of there.”

Everyone strained, moaned, groaned, carried on and bewildered the store employee confirming the pickup order with our driver. The belt loop was finally free and the child was tethered to nothing but gravity once again.

After we all calmed down and finished congratulating ourselves, we agreed the most amazing part of the ordeal was the strength of that denim belt loop in those jeans.

I wonder if they make them for adults.

 

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