Saturday, November 27, 2004

T -Minus 6 and Counting

It's 1:30. I've just returned home from a required meeting to find the girlies up and actively engaged in the t-day cooking. The turkey was out of the bag and sitting seasoned in the baking pan. I was SHOCKED by the sight. I asked Owlie, "What happened to our bird! She's all angles and points! That's the skinniest turkey I've ever seen in my life. Did they steal the breast meat when they were dressing her?"

Owl: "No, I checked. See, no cut marks. But where there is supposed to be meat, there's just skin. I think Henrietta was wearing falsies, 'causes she looked like a big bird when she was alive."

Me: "How much did she weigh?"

Owl: "Four kilos alive."

Me: "Well, I saw her alive two days ago and she looked like a good sized bird, but I know they don't fatten them up here. Oh, I thought she was 4 kilos dressed. She must weigh only 2.5 kilos now and it looks like it's all bone. I wish our digital camera worked. I'd love to have a picture of this collection of skin and bones. She looks like a deflated turkey balloon. I think turkey is going to be a symbolic presence this year, not a main course."

The Old Testament mentions wave offerings, where the meat is waved over the alter. We may have to wave this bird over the table and just smell 'cause I don't think there will be anything edible once it's baked.

Author's Note: The American celebration of Thanksgiving is a traditional celebration of Family and Friends and a time to thank God for his blessings in our lives. It's celebration does not include pride in our genocidal treatment of the American Indians or acceptance of our current government's atrocities in the name of the "War on Terror". Oue past national shames are only outdone by our current war crimes.

Friday, November 26, 2004

T-Minus 12 and Counting

Today, Saturday is my unofficial Thanksgiving dinner here in Pakistan. It was postponed due to work on Thursday. It's 7 am and I've got twelve hours till serving time. This is a feast that takes 2 days of preparation. This year our menu reflects daughter Abez's newly perscribed anti-migraine measures of no chocolate, mint, cheese, soda-pop and nuts. Bummer!

Yesterday I made two pumpkin pies, from a fresh pumpkin! I just couldn't see paying the insane price of 150 Rs for a can of pumpkin big enough to make only one pie. (that's almost 3 US dollars) I did spring for a 150 Rs can of cranberry sauce, cause there are no alternatives available and it's tradition. We can't get fresh cranberries here, a pity because I love that fresh cranberry relish where you grind berries, an orange and walnuts together. Yum

Our turkey was 200 Rs per Kilo live weight for a total cost of 850 Rs. The local turkeys are so skinny, tough and boney compared to the ones in the States. The bird in the fridge looks like she has anorexia. I really like turkey and enjoy using the left overs for turkey soup and pot pie, but this little bird won't have any leftovers to give. She's gonna give her all just for the dinner.

Daughter-Owlie was the designated bird shopper. She takes her shopping and bargaining seriously. And besides, who is better at swooping in for the kill than our own preditory bird? She returned from shopping to tell a tragic tale of true love. At the market there was a pair of turkeys, Tom and Henrietta, she called them. When Henrietta was taken in the be weighted and killed Tom began to run around frantically calling and looking for her. Even the nearby Used Sweater-Walla (seller) commented sadly, "He's looking for his mate."

Last night, when I asked, " Who wants to make the turkey this year?" Owlie answered the call. It's time for my girlies to be initiatated into the Selective Society of Roastmasters.

I recently read that a traditional feast is around 4,500 calories! Yes, I really believe it too. Although Turkey is low fat and healthy, the meal is a glut of fats and carbs. Our turkey will be served with gravy, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, bread and butter, glazed carrots, and cranberry sauce followed by a least two deserts, pumpkin pie with whipped cream or ice cream and date bread and gingerbread turkeys. Notice even the vegetables are glazed or sugared in some way.

For the past three years we've added gingerbread turkeys as placecards at the table. Each person gets his plate marked with a turkey with his name on it. You all know we LOVE gingerbread here. I made the dough yesterday and Abez did the baking and will do the decorating today. She is the official gingerbread decorator for the family.

Well, enough of blogging. I got some serious cooking to do. Let the festivities begin!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Thank God for Family and Friends

Today was American Thanksgiving Day. We didn't have the traditional celebration: 4,500 calories worth of turkey and trimmings. That's scheduled for Saturday. We celebrated the event as friends joined us for an impromptu pizza dinner. After dinner we played scrabble, with Hubby smashing all contenders with his 2 seven letter plays. After dinner chocolates supplied by Crayon found their way into a glass turkey candy dish, so we had turkey today after all- a chocolate stuffed turkey.

Apple pie warm from the oven topped with ice cream for desert further enhanced the holiday feel. We were all stuffed by the end. Who's a turkey now? I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book to Crayons rugrats. It was a cozy ending to a really nice evening. This evening's event was so satisfying, I'm tempted to not have a big dinner on Saturday.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Roadtrip Reminesces

Just returned from a whirlwind weekend at Hemlock's house in Lahore. As usual she was a wonderful hostess inspite of her crazy class schedual at Uni. She catered to our every whim, drove us around town, feted and entertained us. We met several bloggers there and had a great time. But let's back up this happy scene to the beginning of our trip.

Saturday afternoon, we were about 1 1/2 hours late starting out. This was the first road trip in our new-used Replacment Car. We had just hit the motorway and had hoped to make up for lost time, but RC (replacement car) had other plans. RC started to shake and shimmy when we hit 100 kpm.
We had to do the entire trip at a leisurely 99 kpm or it felt like a jet awaiting take off, engines revving, body shaking, going nowhere fast. We were passed by busses and trucks and once, even by one of those 25 year old black taxis that have been battered and bashed so much that their bodies are all lumpy. We call them, "body-by-Bondo." Bondo is the putty you use to fix car body dents and dings. How embarrassing!

This was our first road trip with just me and deZiztahs in about 5 years, but we quickly fell into old habits. We had just gone about 30 kms when Abez whined, "Momma, Owlie bit me." She was serious too. Oh boy, I thought. Here we go again. Just like the old days. "Don't make me have to stop this car!"

Then we argued over the choice of music tapes, tried 3 or 4 least offensive to the majority and finally settled into a group songfest. We sang, hummed and fumbled our way through our old favorite roadtrip tape, long since dead from over use, a collection of folk songs from the '60's. Each of us knew some of the words and we all just jumped in or hummed our way through, often making up words till we got to the chorus. We even figured out a 2 part harmony on a Christy Minstral's song, "I'll Never Find Another You." I was sorry I didn't have my harmonica along. All very reminiscent of the many roadtrips of just me and the kids on the 6 hour long drive my G-ma's house in Indiana.

Also very reminicent of past road trips, we somehow couldn't coordinate our need for bathroom breaks, so it seemed like we hit every "service" stop on the way coming and going. When you travel with girls, you cannot tour the nation without touring all the restrooms in the nation.

Our traverse of the Salt Range allowed me to teach my daughters a lesson they never got in Indiana, how to use the gears to control the car when driving on steep inclines. We mid-Westerners are such flat-landers that I never got a chance to teach them this important techinque.

The last few miles on the motorway were stressful. When I realized we were really LOW on fuel, there were no more service stations. Hemi had advised us the follow a Daewoo bus into the city and call her from the station, so 10 kms from Lahore, we found a bus and tried to follow it, but it was traveling much faster than my shaking and shimmying car could go. We lost it on the crowded and dark highway.

We made our way to the first Lahore exit and then hit the first gas station we saw, grateful that we had made it so far on gas fumes. After we gassed up, our luck was with us as another Daewoo passed the gas station. We peeled out to follow it. In Lahore traffic, it had no speed advantage over us, but it was like trying to follow a charging rhino. He pushed, bullied and bluffed his way thought the heavy traffic. I used our small size and maneuverability (and a few tricks I learned as a taxi driver's wife) to keep up with him as he roared through town.

I'll let deZistahs tell you about the acutal events in Lahore.

Two fast and furious days later, we awoke at 6 a.m. to hit the highway and head home. Hemi awoke to guide us to Canal road before she headed off for exams. Her advice to "Just stay on Canal Road and it will lead you back to the motorway" was waaaay oversimplifying things. Canal road may sound like a sure thing (Hey, there's a big canal running down the middle of it) but it was like most roads in Pakistan, hit and miss, poorly marked, with supersize detours, and unexplained and unexpected turns. We finally made it after a crazy, unmarked detour around Punjab University.

We were excited to find a Shell station with a Dunkin Donuts shop open and just before the motorway entrance. Hemi's brother had told us that DD's don't open till 10:30 and we had dismayed at not getting donuts for Zaman and friend and fellow blogger Crayon. Upon sighting the DD's we went in and promptly bought out the entire stock (okay, there were only 18 [seriously stale] donuts in the whole place, but now I can brag and say "I've bought out an entire DD.") A bottle of diet Coke, bags of chips and popcorn, and two chickenish-pepper sandwiches completed our roadtrip stash of junk food. Two minutes later, we were on the motorway and flying along at 90 kmp's.

One of the things that the girls enjoyed very much about the motorway was the strange, misspelled and improperly punctuated road signs. There was; "Speed Thirls, but Kills" "Retire the dead tyre" (weird, but techinically not a true misspelling since British spelling is the norm here.) There were bizarre pictographs of turtle, rat, armadillo (or porpucine, we can't tell which), and greyhound crossing signs. Apparently Punjabi villagers aren't an endangered species, so they merit no warning signs. There should have been lota crossing signs, because we sighted about 6 roadkilled lotas on the return trip.

The sign that caused the most chaos in the car was: NO. U. TURN. Which the girls read as No, You turn, because of the punctuation. And then started a shoving and shouting match, "You turn!" "No. You turn!" " No, You. "...... What can I tell you?! (interrobang) It was like driving around with Abbot and Costello, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, and the cast of Monty Python all at the same time. As you can guess, this sign occured often and I never knew when the shouting and shoving would begin all over again.

Our trip home was slower, as the car shook even more so we tried to stay under 90 kpm. It also seemed soooo much quicker. I think it's a wonderful gift from God that returning home always seems easier than leaving. We remembered to buy gas BEFORE we were burning fumes and had passed the last chance station.

It felt like we were home when we spotted Isloo's cookie cutter houses, all neatly lined up on straight streets. What Islamabad lacks in character, it makes up for in convenience.

As always, it was good to be home. The first thing I did was open the fridge (empty AND dirty, but mine-oh-mine), feed and pet the dog, wake up (at 4 p.m.) and hug the boy. The girlies hit the computer and phone to tell Hemi we were home safe and friends we were back in town. I then made lunch and did three day's worth of crossword puzzles to unwind. My little girlies are fed, showered and napping, (ohhh, they are soooo cute when they are asleep) so it's my turn to blog.

Later Hubby came home and got all smooched up.

Roadtrips are good, but its great to be home.