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Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

What a gorgeous day it was today! We drove to Gainesville on Tuesday, arriving in early evening and enjoying a great Cuban dinner at Mi Apa before retiring in the misty rain to a restless night. Wednesday, we didn’t have far to go, mile wise,but it took all day through a steady rain, just heavy enough for me to need the wipers. We drove through “old Florida,” through horse country around Ocala, and through cracker country between farm and ocean. Even saw a black bear and cub on the side of the road; watched as they startled at our car and dove into roadside brush (thankfully). We went as far east we we could, ending up on Merritt Island NWR after a HUGE rock shrimp lunch at Dixie Crossroads.

Rainy, drizzly, gray, and totally, luciously lovely is how I’d describe Merrit Island. We saw Bald Eagle, Snipe, Yellowthroated Warbler, Palm Warbler, Osprey, GBH, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Fox Sparrow, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Coot, Mottled Duck, Louisiana Heron (or Tri-colored Heron, if you prefer), Reddish Egrets, and many other shorebirds.

We departed late afternoon, still in drizzle, to head towards our final destination for this trip: New Smyrna Beach. We arrived at the Buena Vista Inn shortly (only a short 25 miles or so up US1) and waited for our family to arrive.

And arrive the Vilbergs did, shortly after 7 and right on schedule after their 5 hour drive. Ruth and I still had Thanksgiving Day shopping to do, so off we went with Lady Marion to a Publix (so I could get ginger ale) for our Turkey Day trimmings. Then back to the inn to visit, drink some wine, and catch up –and finally, bed, still with the rain gently falling.

Sometime in the night, the rain stopped and the day dawned brisk and overcast, but you could tell the clouds were breaking up. By early morning when we were running from suite to suite to get breakfast done, the day was sunny and gorgeous. And so it remained.

We started the rib roast in the oven (thank you to the Publix butcher who coached us through the process on Wed. nite!), then finished it on the courtyard grill as we grilled the asparagus and waited for the Mac & Cheese in the oven to get golden brown on top and bubbly on the sides. We ate the feast in the courtyard on picnic tables beneath a gentle golden sun and cool breezes. It sorta felt like heaven. And we have two more days to go before we begin the trek home.

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In two days, I’ve written and moved two newsletters through my desk and on to completion elsewhere. But somehow I can’t find time to write here, even time to reflect, really, on what’s going on. Three children at USM died recently, leaving other students and faculty shaken and a little scared. A very dear friend is battling the bad economy and losing as, we hear, is one of our brothers. Another dear friend was recently taken ill and awaiting surgery. Another admitted himself back into a treatment program for at least 30 days…maybe more. I’ve just had the first board meeting of the new board I’m on, and just returned this evening (before the second newsletter) from a fund-raiser for Southern Pines Animal Shelter. And the end of the semester, pale by comparison, is coming at me like a runaway train!

It’s all just a bit much.

So in lieu of any more complaining and moaning about poor me, let me tell you some of the things I’m grateful for as Thanksgiving approaches:

My husband who deserves more recognition for hanging in there with me for 25+ years than I could ever give him. If you see him, congratulate him, both for keeping me and for his patience, tolerance, lion-to-my-lioness attitude, and deep and true love.

– Family (all of them, even those who are distant in temperament or physical distance or just their own busy lives)

– Friends (all of them, even those estranged or mad at me or just too busy); without friends to drink a beer or tell a trouble or even share a tall tale, well…what would be the point, really? precious gifts….

– My pets, current and past. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Not my quote but definitely my truth…if you want to know true love, get a dog. The parrot comes close, too. The jury’s still out on the fish.

Jack Harper (about 1948)

– Having a job, let alone a job I really, really like! Given the economy, perhaps this should’ve been first but things fall where they fall.

Minnie Harper (about 1940)

– My dad, dead for 30 years, but whom I value more each day and still miss deeply and truly.

– My mom, dead for 20 years and whom I don’t really miss at all, but who is still teaching me lessons every day

– Electronic communication, without which I’d be even more isolated than I feel tonight. Yes, email is better than nothing!

The list could go on and on and on because I really do know how very, very lucky and blessed I am. I have a student whose apartment burned last week and he lost everything. EVERYTHING. I have another student who knew one of the kids who committed suicide and another whose friend died in a carwreck. I’m not in a hospital tonight, nor am I at a wake. My chronic illnesses are more about choices I make than about compulsions I have little control over. I have not been abused or battered. I did not go hungry tonight (or any other night -ever!). I get to sleep in my own bed tonight. I have people who LOVE me, deeply, passionately, forever. I am so very, very blessed.

Think about it. I’ll bet you have stuff to be grateful for, too. Hey – it’s Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

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