We do not have a kitchen, well, not a real one anyway. We do have a fridge, a two burner hot plate, 5-quart Crock Pot, 22-quart roaster, blender, toaster, coffee maker and waffle iron, but these things aren't even in what is supposed to be the kitchen. They're in the library, at least that's what we call it. If you squint, there are days it looks like a bathroom as it still has a shower stall in one corner, a vanity sink in another and a toilet in the closet under the stairs, installed for the elderly gentleman who used to live here so he would not have to climb the stairs to go to the bathroom. So, since we do not have a kitchen suitable for conjuring up a festive Thanksgiving feast, we made plans to spend the holiday with Tom's family in North Carolina.
Tom's parents live in Wilmington, his sister and her family live in Jacksonville, about an hour north of Wilmington. It isn't easy getting most places from here, but you can do it. Tom investigated every combination of flying out of Albany, Hartford and NYC and landing in Wilmington, Raleigh and Timbuktu. It isn't cheap for three people to fly out of here into anywhere, but we decided we would save some money and drive two hours and a half to fly out of LaGuardia, land in Raleigh and then drive another two hours to Wilmington. Next time, we're coughing up the extra bucks and driving as little as possible as all that driving makes for very long and exhausting travel. Such confinement can make a five year old a tad insane.
After our arrival in Raleigh, while Tom endeavored to obtain our rental car, I kept Mickey occupied by taking pictures of him with the resident welcoming committee.
After a minor meltdown on my part and two hours later, we arrived at Grandma Linda's and Grandpa Dale's house. (For some crazy reason, I managed to get but one fleeting picture of Grandma Linda and none of Grandpa Dale during the whole trip! Dang it. And I realized this only after our return and I started uploading photos for posting here.) Grandma had prepared a yummy dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans for ua, after which we all sat around like zombies recuperating from our day of travel. We needed as much rest as we could muster as the next day promised to be fraught with high stakes cooking in someone else's kitchen (Grandma's) while four high energied boys with testosterone through the roof cavorted, bounced, dashed and darted around the house, until they were made to go outside. One of the boys of which I speak was Mickey, of course. The other three were Mickey's cousins, Tom's nephews, his sister Mary's sons. Mickey LOVES spending time with them and I so wish we lived closer, or air travel was cheaper.
Across the street from Grandma and Grandpa's is a golf course with a pond stocked with all kinds of fish. KC brought his fishing rods, so eventually the boy's trotted off across the street to spend some time at the pond. The pond was full of weeds, but KC managed to keep his hook out of them enough to snag himself a few fish.
Fishing is fun, but pulling the hook out of a fish's mouth is a bit unsettling. (Wait until we do some real fishing and have to scale them, gut them and cut their heads off!)
Which do you like best?
Mickey watches as the devil incarnate, Alex, threads a worm on his hook.
Meanwhile, back across the street, we were all in a frenzy whipping together our Thanksgiving feast. While Grandma Linda and I were inside switching our turkey from the electric roaster to the oven because we weren't sure the roaster was doing it's job, Kevin, Tom's brother-in-law, Mary's husband, was deep frying a second turkey,
and stewing collards (Mary makes Kevin fix them outside because she can't stand to smell them cooking),
while Mary did the second baking of her twice baked potatoes on the grill.
Inside, I was in a twist trying to pull together the cornbread dressing, giblet gravy and green beans with bacon and onions. Grandma had already made three pies with home made crusts first thing that morning.
We finally sat down to dinner around 5:00, and I must say, everyone did a great job. All the food tasted quite yummy! I had two plates full, Kevin had three. Shortly after, Kevin could be found dead asleep on the sofa in front of the TV as I wandered aimlessly until I finally sequestered myself in the bedroom to read, relax and unwind. Tom and Mary gathered the boys around the kitchen table where they decorated gingerbread men for desert.
The next day, we took Mickey over to Mary's house where he had not one but two sleep-overs! What a great time he had with Mary's four boys. I count Kevin in that number as he is just as big a kid as the rest of them. They whiled away their hours playing out in the woods, riding the ATV, and channeling their primitive man by a roaring fire.
The day after the second sleepover, Tom and I drove up to Jacksonville to retrieve our little man. While we were there we walked over to the site where Kevin and Mary are building their new house. It's going to be beautiful when it is done.
Before the sun sat and the bonfire was set ablaze, Kevin took Mickey for a spin on his tractor.
After each boy's inner man was satisfied by the fire, they were gathered up and brought home where their inner man was satisfied with ham and green beans for dinner. Mickey loves his Auntie Mary.
After dinner came the requisite zoning out in front of the TV. Mickey appears to be very comfortable with his cousins, and they, obviously, with him. That's Mark's butt Mickey is using as a pillow, bony as it is.
Needless to say, there was much gnashing of teeth when it was time to leave and head back to Grandma and Grandpa's for a good night's rest. And we needed all the rest we could get for our return hop skip and jump back north. Only after we drove our two hours from Wilmington to Raleigh did we learn that our flight had been canceled due to inclement weather in NYC. Ugh. So we spent the night at a hotel and had to get up at 4:00 AM in order to catch our flight to DC where we had a two hour layover, which ended up being longer as our flight from DC to NYC was delayed because air travel was backed up all over the place. By the time we arrived in NYC and was faced with yet another two hours worth of driving, Mickey was not having it. He was good, just exhausted.
What a wonderful Thanksgiving!