Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holidays on Ice

Sunday morning, the one before Thanksgiving. Drinking chai tea in a silver thermal mug. Feet up on the dining chair, facing laptop set on dining room table. Windows to the front of me, windows to the side. Just saw a teen in a Nissan race up to the stop sign and skid. Skid-d-d-d-skidddd. Night brought a sheet of ice, making everything, as my friend Julie says, "like a glazed donut." Tim called at 12:08 a.m. (last night) to say he was sorry he had just missed curfew but the people he was going to catch a ride home with were having trouble on the ice and they were standing out near Michael's house looking over at a few accidents on West 7th and seeing all the red police lights. We told him he should just spend the night there, because neither one of us wanted to venture out ourselves. And then we both let out a sigh of relief.

Funny. I was eager to try out my new hockey skates at open skate today but I'm a little leary about driving out on the ice.

I've had a few Saturdays in a row now where I don't leave the house all day. Even though I am cooped up too much all week, I am always on the run during the work week. I get an e-mail every 45 seconds. And run to meetings or off-site events. So come Saturday I am content to putter around the house. Yesterday Ken made a bacon-eggs-and-biscuit breakfast and I read the early Sunday edition with tea. I vacuumed one bedroom and picked up. I opened the mail. I Tweeted and Facebooked. I watched Lidia's Italian Kitchen. I got Tim's help to make a pumpkin pie. He stirred up the filling and I made the crust.

Now that was a small accomplishment. About 15 years ago my dear neighbor Pat, a scholar, mother of four, and terrific southern cook, told me I should learn to cut corners to manage things. Because she was such a good cook, one piece of her advice I embraced was using Pillsbury frozen pie crusts. I used those dough wands for years, even when I recreated Pat's prize sweet potato pie recipe. But I never really liked the taste and the way the crusts shriveled up. Yet, I feared the failed homemade crust. Silly, now, because it really is as easy as they say. I used a combination of butter and Crisco and threw some whole wheat farmers' market flour into the dough. It was just right.

Megan will drive home from the Gunflint Wednesday and we'll all have the long holiday weekend together. Today I'll make myself leave the house if I have to, just so I get out in the fresh air and elements, even though it would be so easy to stay in my pajamas all day, cooking and puttering and listening to football.

I bought my new skates at Hockey Giant, a Bloomington store Ken has been frequenting for years. He scopes out the merchandise--sticks and pads and skates--so that he knows when there are good deals to be had for Tim. It's expensive to play hockey but Ken has always managed to outfit Tim on a budget. He tracks all the gear Tim outgrows and turns it in for credit at Play It Again Sports. He bargains with the floor people on last year's models. I appreciated Ken's efforts more now that I was buying my own skates. Once you settle on a pair and pay for them, you bring them back to the skate sharpening station and have them baked in a small convection-like oven. That softens up the boot. You sit in your laced-up skates for five minutes and then you walk around the floor for another five. The boot molds to your foot as if you've broken them in by skating four or five times. The floor guy helped me lace-up the skates for the fitting, placing his thumb on the crossed laces like all of us Mighty Mite parents used to do with our kids. I ran through the criss-crosses and lace pulls like lightning and he paused, looked up, and said, "You don't have to rush through this. Take your time and get it right. You don't want to have the boot tongue crooked." The way he said it, so grandfatherly in his tone, and the fact that he took the time to say it when retail experiences are normally so rushed and impersonal, really affected me. You're lucky when you get personalized advice from friends and family. Makes you feel surrounded by people who care. And sometimes it takes a stranger to say something you need to hear. Slow down. Take your time. These are the things you really want to take some time with.

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