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2009 Tercera Edad Blogs

My blogs from San Pancho for 2009.  You'll find the complete list for the year to the right.

Destroying the Jungle

Destroying the Jungle

"It sounds," he said, "like they are destroying the jungle."

"They are," I replied.

And, they are.

Every morning we hear giant equipment plowing through the jungle where a development company is creating their version of San Pancho.

We Wish You a Merry

We Wish You a Merry

You always think, or hope, that holidays are going to be special, memorable.

And, then, they all kind of blend into one year, one Christmas. You can't remember if that was 1978 or 1984, or the year that Grandma fell in the garage, or the St. Bernard ate all the Christmas cookies while you were at church.

But, in the long run, I guess the year really doesn't matter. You can always check the back of the photographs, hoping that you dated them, if it's really important. And if you didn't, you can always say, well, "Cathy looks about 4", or "Chris was just a baby."

There was the year the St. Bernard ate all the turkey drippings and belched about the time the static electricity hit her, causing the gas that had built up inside to explode, burning off her eye lashes and whiskers. We remembered that holiday, if not the year. So did Brandy, if dogs have memories.

Christmas trees sort of all run together, too, after awhile. The same decorations, collected year after year. The tree with the birds nest in it. The tree that had long needles. The tree that lost all the needles before Christmas. The year it fell off the top of the Jeep in front of Daly Chevrolet.

The years when we ran fish wire from the top of the Christmas tree to the ceiling, so the cats wouldn't fell the tree when they attempted to climb it. The year we didn't wire it, the year the tree fell, crashing across the glass coffee table.

There was the 20-foot Christmas tree the year I told the guy to deliver one that went to the highest point of the Cathedral ceiling. He called the office and said he'd delivered in the driveway, but he sure didn't know how I was going to get it in the house.

It weighed more than any two, or three, people could possibly handle. So we recruited our neighbors, strong teens, to help us shove it into the house through the sliding glass door.

The borrowed boys helped Curt and me get it upright, and it did, indeed, touch the top of the cathedral ceiling. A Christmas tree stand just wouldn't hold it. So we got a bucket from the garage to stand it in, and Curt sent me off to the hardware store, while he and the helpers stood by holding the tree up, to get sand, to weight the bucket down.

The closest hardware store didn't have sand. Being creative, I bought a bag of sacrete. And hauled it home, and into the house.

Never send a woman to buy sand. Curt was not happy. Sacrete was not the answer. It would get wet, it would clog up the bottom of the tree, you couldn't water the tree, it was a dumb idea. He wanted sand. I could either hold up the tree, or go get sand. Off into the darkness to the next hardware store for sand.

"What kind of sand?" the young clerk asked.

"Any kind of sand, please, and fast," I replied, as the clerk started listing options.

"Coarse sand, fine sand, sandbox sand...what are you going to use it for."

"Any bag will do...heavy sand! But make it a big bag. Maybe two bags. It has to hold the Christmas tree up. And, while you're getting it, get me a half dozen 8-inch bolts, at least 8 inches, longer if you've got 'em."

"Lady, I won't even ask why."

Home again, with sand, lots of sand, and the precious bolts. We filled the bucket with the sand, but the tree still wouldn't stand alone.

I held the tree. Curt constructed braces, big ones out of long boards, in a teepee effect, which he bolted through the carpeting, right into the floor.

We decorated that mammoth tree with every single decoration we'd ever collected, and it looked magnificent. Visitors were awestruck. We enjoyed hours of sitting around on the floor near that tree. We had to sit on the floor because we had to move most of the furniture out of the living room to make room for the tree.

Reality hit, shortly after New Years. Hauling the tree in was a lot easier than it was going to be to haul that tree out. The branches had been tightly bound to the trunk on the way in. Now they were full and billowing. And, well, it wouldn't, couldn't, go out the door.

Santa to the rescue! He'd left a chainsaw for Curt, and it was put to use sawing the tree into manageable pieces. In fact, the entire family spent most of the day sawing the tree into pieces and hauling it to the curb, then vacuuming the remains.

No, not this year. One of those was enough for a lifetime.

So we just added some new memories this year and, a Christmas we'll remember forever. Just like your Christmas.

Did I tell you that all animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve? If, and only if, there aren't any people around to hear them?

It's true. I learned it, well I think it was about 1945, and...

Merry Christmas!

Please pass the gravy

Please pass the gravy

(Note: This is a rerun, written several years ago, in Massachusetts, where the Hahns celebrate the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It has nothing to do with San Pancho, obviously, but I thought you'd enjoy it.)

We’re off to Athol today. Athol, of all places. It’s just that you can’t get there from here.

You have to go through the Quabbin or around it. The former is impossible, so the first conversation of the trip is…take the scenic route? Or Routes 91 and 2?

We’ll get there by noon, either route, just in time to join all of the other Hahns, who are celebrating Thanksgiving today.

This family that I married into can make three turkeys disappear in less than an hour. And that’s only a couple dozen people. Three turkeys.

Niece Cindy, who for some reason volunteers to host the other Hahns each year, and Nephew Murray, who may have joined the family by marriage but eats like a true Hahn and who would probably much rather be on the golf course today, no matter what the weather, reminded us of how much food everyone is assigned to bring.

Including those three turkeys. Cindy will do two in her good old fashioned turkey roasters and our son, Chris, will set the backyard on fire boiling another in hot oil, southern style. His cousins will, once again, chide him for buying what they call a cheapo propane burner, which is why the fire won’t light. But, by dinnertime, bird three will be done.

Of course, by dinnertime, several dozen appetizers will disappear. Cindy complained that she didn’t get any last year. She’ll have to talk to her brothers and cousins about that, as I thought Curt and I took enough for 75 or 80 people.

"We appreciate any contributions of food, drink, manpower and brainpower you are willing to make," Cindy wrote. "Here is the list of what I anticipate is needed for the Hungry Hahns! I have included last year's menu and who contributed each item."

Those turkeys and stuffing headed the list. Then, squash. Hey, David, Cindy said there wasn’t any left last year. Maybe you should bring more.

Gravy. The Hahn family’s favorite beverage. No matter how much is made there’s never enough. "And yes," Cindy wrote, "I already have bought extra flour so I don't have to run to my neighbor's and borrow some at the last minute. Do we need gravy master?"

They never let me make the gravy, for which I am eternally thankful. And so are they. I have no idea what gravy master is. All I know that any gravy I attempt has to be put through a strainer.

Don’t forget the potatoes, Dave. Last year you brought 50 pounds. One casserole dish of potatoes was left over. And, Dave, your sister hopes you will bring your gas burner and pressure cooker to cook them. Then you get to mash them.

I think, Dave, you should tell your sister you’re doing enough. Making the gravy, bringing the squash, and doing the potatoes.

Evie, Cindy’s mother, is assigned the cranberry sauce. (I hope she brings the one with the orange rind and nuts in it.) Evie also brings the green bean casserole each year.

Last year only one dozen dinner rolls disappeared. I think I ate most of them. They were invented by another Hahn, Patti Wong Hahn, who works at Pillsbury.

Jonathon, Cathy, Chris and Jen brought the beer and wine. There was some wine leftover but all the beer was gone, Cindy wrote. I don’t think she knew about the Stoli at the bar. That was all gone, too.

We have to have dessert. No one wants to go home hungry, after all. So, to put under the ice cream, Peggy and Tracy made nine pies. Chocolate, pecan, apple, mince, all the favorites.

There’s also the Slovak kolache that Evie brings to round out the dessert table.

Sammie and Jessie will do table favors and place cards. Billy will help, if they let him. I guess Aidan’s the only one without a job. But he’s only three.

Cindy will say grace.

It’s really our annual Hahn family gathering, as well as our Thanksgiving.

And I’m thankful for the opportunity to share a meal with the people I love.

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of love, as well.


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