Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving, 2007

I must say that our Thanksgiving was not the most restful and enjoyable time we have had. As disclaimer, we did get to see Clint, Marianne and Reeder as well as Brandy and Will, all of which was totally enjoyable. But since Max had to work on Thanksgiving Day, we didn’t leave until Friday. The “fastest” way to drive from SF to south of LA is down I-5 through the middle of the San Joaquin valley. That is about 260 miles of interstate that goes through the middle of the principal crop growing region of California. It was interesting to see the first few hundred thousand acres of fruit and nut trees, but that eventually got a little old. The acres of trees were eventually replaced by vast, very flat, very bare “farm land”. The San Joaquin Valley is not naturally farm land- but rather semi-desert. It is only "farm" because of the extensive aqueduct- and the fertilizing- all man-made. God didn't intend for farming to happen in the San Joaquin Valley- but this "non farm" actually produces 25% of agriculture in the US. But "real" farm country is beautiful- And the San Joaquin Valley is the ugliest farm country I have ever seen- this is country even the "mother" couldn't love. But these are commercial “farms” and that’s very different from farms in Ohio or for that matter anywhere else I have ever seen a farm. It was just miles of bare land, and I don’t think we ever did see a farm house or a barn the whole way. It was just flat fields waiting for planting as far as the eye could see.

OK, that’s not so awful. The awful part came as we left the Valley and started climbing the hills north of LA. That’s when the oil drain plug in our Honda Civic fell out, and I lost all of the oil in my engine. I was lucky in that apparently just as it was happening, I was changing lanes, looked in my rear view mirror and noticed that my car was looking like a crop duster from all of the smoke coming from behind it. I immediately pulled off to the shoulder and went to the front of the car to see a large puddle of oil forming on the ground where it was draining out of the engine. Now at this time I had no idea what was the cause, so I had to get a tow truck.

We finally got one, and I think he drove over from the movie set of Deliverance. His brain was obviously fried from drugs, his hands were black from dirt and oil, he had long filthy hair, and we couldn’t understand anything he said. He was able to pull the car up on his tow truck and drive us the 60 miles into the closest Honda dealer who just happened to still be open when we arrived.

I had to sit in the middle on the bench seat of the tow truck- without a seat belt- but tow trucks don't come with three seat belts and my only other option would have been waiting at the side of the road with my thumb out. I couldn't make out most of what the driver was saying- it would have been a little easier had he had just a few more teeth- and he would just ramble on and on- pausing every once and a while for me to say- "oh really"- or some such non response. But he ranted about a boss who did him wrong- a Michael Jackson Limo that broke down and called 11- separate tow trucks- and they all arrived- An ex- wife who calls and yells at him from time to time- most often when he is in the liquor store. His personal hygiene suffered from neglect- probably years- I'm not sure a brush had touched what use to be dreadlocks for months- There was an dreary wild cherry air freshener dangling from the rear view mirror that had seen better days. It was a very long ride. After finding an ATM machine, I paid him the $300 cash and asked for a receipt. This seemed to stump him for a few minutes, but then he found the receipt pad and was able to copy information from old receipts onto mine. Like I said, I think he had pretty well burned up most of his brain cells.

We had great luck that the Honda service department was open until late on Friday, but they couldn’t get to our car quickly and the only place to rent a car was closing soon. So we rented a car (a Prius no less) and finished the last 100 mile drive through “Greater Los Angles” to San Clemente getting there only about 4 hours later than planned. By the way, all the bad things you have ever heard about LA traffic are true. It is truly an experience to drive 100 miles through congested “rush hour” Los Angles traffic. Later that evening at Clint and Marianne’s house we got the “good news” that it was only the drain plug instead of some other catastrophic damage, and apparently I had stopped the car fast enough that there was no damage to the engine.

But we did arrive- and Marianne and Clint's new home is wonderful! And true to form- Marianne already has it decorated so it feels like home even though they've only been in San Clemente for 2 weeks. Their new home is a three bedroom (our room was ready- the new baby will share with Reeder so there will still be a room for Grama Max and Grandpa Don). The neighborhood is charming- and there is plenty of sidewalks and green space for wandering about. We understand they are not far from the beach- but we didn't wander that direction this trip.

But of course the best part of this trip was REEDER!

She charmed us all with her antics. We played with blocks- and colored- and read (Reeder's favorite toy is a book!)
And of course there was a walk!

Notice how careful she is about actually looking over her shoulder before turning- not quite ready for the San Francisco streets- but she's working on it.

Now for all our friends and family that come for Thanksgiving- THIS YEAR I MADE MY VERY BEST PUMPKIN PIE! It was absolutely beautiful!
And tasted great- well at least I think so- By the time we finished dinner- and got around to desert we were really awfully tired- so we ate tiny slivers- and I brought the rest home- and I'm going to throw it away tomorrow- It might be the best- but it was very most neglected as well. Thanksgiving begs for the big celebration- And I missed that- plenty of wonderful family and friends to eat and eat and eat and laugh and laugh and laugh and talk and talk and talk- until you don't think you have another bit of energy for another bite- or chuckle or word. You were all so very missed.

Don did much of the "heavy lifting" in the kitchen,
And he and Marianne made their first chocolate pie ever- and no help from me. Reeder and I were knitting in another room.

And Clint from time to time provided some needed supervision- he made sure that Don had everything under control....
And the dinner was wonderful- with all the things I have been making (though this time "I" really made very little of the dinner- but all the favorite things were there- Brandy brought the green bean casserole and broccoli rice casserole- I did the corn bread dressing and gravy, Marianne did the spinich casserole, and Don did the sweet potatoes, cranberry relish (always with a bit of bourbon) and mashed potatoes and of course the turkey- brined of course.

And Brandy and Will did the clean up! Mary Ezra- you got a break this year- but there will be plenty of years ahead!

And of course there was the lazy time of "nothing much" that is so especially wonderful with families and holidays.

And in true Grama Max fashion we stopped (Don, Marianne, Clint, Reeder and I) at the mall before heading back to San Fran for a bit of shopping.
But Reeder needs warmer clothes for these chilly California evenings.....

The drive home back up I-5 was nothing but frustrating. The overhead traffic signs said: “Holiday Traffic, Expect Delays”. Boy they weren’t wrong there. We drove through about 75 miles of stop and go traffic, standing absolutely still for about 15 minutes in the middle of it. Every now and then we would speed up to about 60 and then a mile later stop again. Most of the time we were stopping and going, often speeding up to only 15 MPH before braking again. We finally saw a wreck on the other side of the highway, but there was only one car, and it was in the very wide center median out of the way, so I guess the delays for the previous three hours were from folks going north, slowing down to look at the south bound wreck. So the trip home took about 10 hours instead of 7. It was about half way up I-5 that Max proclaimed: “We are never doing this again. We will fly or they will fly, but we will never drive this road again!” We got home around 10 p.m. and declared Thanksgiving over for the year. Thank goodness.


Lucas said...

Never driving in or through the LA area suits me as well!!! Sorry you guys has so much trouble but glad you at least made it there and back unharmed. (Mental and emotional scarring aside) Thanks so much for the pictures. It's great to see everyone again and Reeder is a cutie! Tons of love.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. I loved the part about the drive in the tow truck. And the pic of Reeder in the bucket! She wants more "chicures". (pictures) -Marianne

Anonymous said...

We sure missed you in Ohio... We didn't get any chocolate OR cranberry apple pie (boo hoo).But it was good to see pictures of everyone looking so good :) Pat got up at the crack with his mom and sister and shopped the crowds. We are almost done for this year already YIPPIE!
Let me know when you are coming home to see Anthony. And PLEASE post pictures as you get them! Love you both!