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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stuff Ya Need for Thanksgiving

My friend, Ellen, moved to Atlanta in the spring of this year. She returned home for Thanksgiving and invited me to have dinner at her sister’s weekend farm in Deerfield, VA. Jeannie and her husband, Kenny, bought this farm for the beautiful 14 acres with intentions of renting the old farmhouse. While working on renovating the house, repairing outbuildings, clearing the mountain land and starting a garden, it became theirs. They love being there and decided Thanksgiving should happen at the farmhouse this year. There could not have been a better place for me to give thanks. Jeannie told me that she has fulfilled so many wishes here during her 61st year that she will have to fill the wish bucket again. I think that is a lot for which to give thanks. So, what did Jeannie need to prepare for that dinner of thanks? I observed what went into making this dinner happen and made a list of some of the stuff she needed.

First, she had to have a place to start…that being the farm. For that, she needed the farmhouse, outbuildings, fencing, a view, a dog and a snow gauge…ya might need that.

Ya gotta have a good cook. One who can bring home the bacon, or venison, or whatever. That would be our hostess, Jeannie.

Ya need a lot of stuff for the dinner. Growers are important. You need them them for the fresh herbs from the garden, which the cold, remarkably, has not yet killed. And for the best home grown green beans I have ever tasted. Jeannie found the bean seeds in the freezer when she was cleaning out the farm house where she and Ellen grew up. Her father had put them in the freezer in 1989. They still work! You also need some fresh flowers to pretty up the kitchen while you work. It is okay if they come from Kroger.

A man needs to be nearby in case you need something. I think they call that the go-fer. In our case, that is Jeannie's husband, Kenny.

Before you get too involved in the work, you must have some appetizers and a good bottle opener.

To keep things on the right track, you need a serious git-‘er-doner. That is usually the hostess, in this case, Jeannie.

You need preppers, mixers, tasters. Oh, and master basters

Debaters are good to have around to stimulate the conversation. Cindy was not really debating, but I tried to come up with an "er" word.

Every Thanksgiving dinner needs good waiters. Cindy waited. I think Ellen and I were good waiters. Sassy was probably the best waiter.

Finally you need table setters. And a chaplain.

Then you eat. Twenty minutes later, you are done. Then you need divider uppers for the leftovers.

This does not mean it is over. The next morning is important. You always have the early risers who drink most of the coffee before the late risers rise. I am an early riser. So are Jeannie and Kenny. Followed by a later riser, Miss Ellen.

Breakfast has to happen. Not because anyone is hungry. It's just one of the things ya need for Thanksgiving. It helps to do something before you sit down to eat...again. Jeannie prepared grapefruit and quiche, which baked while we took a walk in the woods on their property. You must keep in mind, this is hunting season in Virginia. Our host and hostess wore blaze orange during our walk and Ellen and I walked with or behind them, especially Ellen. She wore a very nice coat she bought in Australia, but in the woods, and from a distance, she looked like a doe.

One of my favorite spots during our walk is where this swing hangs from a tree. Jeannie sometimes sits with her morning coffee here and takes in the view.

The tree below is what Jeannie calls The Spirit Tree. While this photo does not reveal adequately what this tree looks like, I can tell you it stops you in your tracks when you first see it. Notice the long branch on the left...right where our heads are. The next picture is a better look at that branch.

Looking back down onto the farmhouse. Time for breakfast, which ends our Thanksgiving. This was a good one.


  1. Your descriptions are wonderful, but your pictures are poems. Thanks for sharing your life, and your views of it. I'm happy to be along for the ride! Love you, Deb

  2. Wow, Paula, we certainly had a grand artist for our Thankgiving Guest! What a beautiful job you did.........but I have to say we did "POSE" the pic of me in the hunting coat, rifle, and skirt. Seeesssshhhh. Thank you for these pictures of the 'land of our love'. What a gift. Come back any time!
    Jeanie, Kenny, and Sassy