Saturday, March 1, 2008

Self-Indulgent Ramblings

I'm cooking a turkey and trimmings dinner today, just for the two of us. It's something I do once every winter. Since we always seem to spend the traditional turkey days, Thanksgiving and Christmas, away from home, I never get a chance to pull out all the stops and do one of those big feasts. I decided the way to remedy that is to buy a small turkey any time during the year when they're cheap, freeze it, and then haul it out some cold, dead-of-winter day and smell up the house with it. One of my favorite things in the world is turkey stuffing, cooked in the bird, full of sausage, celery and onion. Steve's turkey dinner isn't complete without boiled buttered onions. I must have string beans. We'll forgo the yams and mashed potatoes--since the meal is just for the two of us and it's not really traditional, some good sense can prevail and we can be satisfied with only one starch, the stuffing, of which we will consume prodigious amounts.

I've got the turkey brining per Cooks Illustrated, and I'm boiling the giblets, such as they were in this bird (I only got the neck--a disappointment because I like poultry guts), for gravy. I follow my mother's plan: extract every last bit of flavor from the bird by simmering the giblets all day long with some onion and herbs. It gets the house smelling of turkey early and makes for a very rich gravy.

Steve's doing--what else? The walls. He's in the den now, smoothing down the last of the drywall bumps, preparing to prime. Tomorrow, colors, next weekend, trim, and the living room and dining room will be done, and NO MORE DRYWALL!!! Next will be the dining room. That's another big project, involving moving furniture, etc., but it seems manageable since at least we know what we are doing now.

Things are currently not looking good on the job front for Steve. Looked at one way, the situation could be called a slow-motion crumble. The government says they most likely will be awarding a new contract before the June 30 deadline. Whenever the contract is awarded, a 3-month clock will start ticking for Steve's job. He's doing everything possible to create a smooth transition from what he is doing now to something else within the same system, so that he won't find himself starting from scratch, vesting in some new place at the age of 59. But every positive step he tries to take is thwarted either by his company or by the state. He could take the radical step of simply retiring at the end of the current job, but that would drastically reduce our retirement income.

Couple Steve's job woes with the real estate market, and it could be that we are looking at a postponement of our plans to sell and move. If it comes to that, we will of course adjust, but the disappointment can't be minimized. We are ready for a change and have become emotionally invested in the current plan.

I can't afford depression over all this. Steve is prone to clinical depression; if we both get down then no good can possibly come of anything. One of us must keep a clear head. It's at times like this I thank my lucky stars for the fundamentally optimistic attitude I inherited from my mother (it would have been just as easy to have got my father's Norse pessimism). I must always remember John Lennon's wise words: "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." At least it's life we're dealing with. The alternative is much less attractive, don't you think?


Anonymous said...

I have worked in real estate the past 25 years and it is odd that the market news, not good as you put it up there, hasn't slowed our two offices in Orlando and Cocoa Beach. People of wealth are still buying property, probably moreso since the price tags have dropped. Enjoy your dinner. I love turkey. I usually cook it at 450 degrees for 35 mins to start it. That makes the skin crisp. Then baste it every 30 mins with good ole fashion butter and reduce the temp to 325. YAY stuffing!

Ralph said...

Right, Z&M, I've heard the same thing about the real estate market here. If you have the money, the high-end market is actually helped by what's going on because those prices are going down along with all the others.

Great advice on the turkey. I'll do that too.

Cuidado said...

I so like your thoughts at the end. In my situation I am fighting the negative thoughts that are seeping in and trying, oh trying to think positively.

I like the Ann-Margeret song. I'd never heard it (or don't remember.) LOL

Ralph said...

I am humbled in the face of your situation, my dear, and can make no guarantees about how I'd be doing under the same circumstances. It sounds like you have great people around you and you also know how to look after yourself. That's good. I can only hope for the same for myself should I ever be where you are.

Anonymous said...

Waiting to hear how the turkey was! Everything sounded delicious and I admit to being a bit envious,

Very good post. Your choice of word - adjustment accurately pinpoints what so many of us (often) have to do and that is adjust. My relo has been postponed several times - unexpected expenses and some health issues. And I do empathise as I do understand emotional investment and commitment to a plan. I am slowing learning the lesson of flexibility - to be fluid and find alternatives.

When I was younger, I kept A,B, C option lists. I bounced back from disappointment with more ease than I do today. Age does limit certain options, yet experience opens windows to new options. I try to remember this - especially these days when I have finally accepted this simple yet profound truth.

Consider adding an option or two more to your thoughts - having idea's even if never used - helps.