Howdy. Hope everyone's Thanksgiving and holiday weekend were great. Mine was pretty good. We made the trip home to Wyoming to spend it with my family. It's always good for me to get home, and to visit with my grandparents as much as possible. My Grandma Nene is 80 and my Papa is 79, so I like to spend as much time with them as I can, and especially to give them the chance to spend some time with my daughter. This Thanksgiving was a little different than I'm used to, but it had to do with the meal more than anything. Usually Nene & Papa cook the whole meal themselves (of course, with a little help from us). This year, we decided it was just too much for them to handle on their own, and we all contributed. My sister made green bean casserole and garlic mashed potatoes (which were FANTASTIC), my mom made stuffing/dressing (depending on which recipe you use) and four pies, I made sweet potato casserole and whipped cream, and my grandparents contributed the rest, which included the turkey, gravy, corn on the cob, caramelized (I think) onions and the cranberry sauce. Ok, so I didn't make the sweet potato casserole. I started to, and then got kicked out of the way by my husband. He said he would take over because he was afraid I would spit in it or burn it on purpose or something. This is because I don't like sweet potatoes, in any form. He got no complaints, just dirty looks and the burning curiosity about what kind of person he seems to think I am. So I whipped the cream. Though I helped clean up afterwards, so I'm not completely useless. Dinner was, of course, really good, and I ate myself silly as usual.
I did brave Black Friday somewhat, but there was no way on this earth I was getting up at 4:00 a.m. (or earlier) to fight the crush of people for things I don't need and don't intend to buy for anyone on my list. That's just psychotic. And yes, there was a huge number of people shopping at that time (so I heard), even in Wyoming. Instead, mom and I ventured out around 10:00. Things were much calmer by then. Yes, there were still quite a few people out and about, but you could walk down the aisles without getting plowed into by someone else's shopping cart, or having to turn your body sideways and suck in your breath just to avoid being run over. We stayed out for about four hours, and in that time managed to cover K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, the Dollar Store, and three stores in the mall. And take 20 minutes to wait in line for a pretzel. (I won't even get started on that.) All in all a pretty successful trip. Also, by the time the weekend was over, between store shopping and online shopping, I managed to wipe out gifts for all but maybe 5 or 6 people on my Christmas list. Not bad. Not bad at all.
A couple very interesting things did happen this weekend. On Friday my husband, my sister's husband and my dad went fishing at Flaming Gorge for a new type of fish. This is one we've never seen before. It's called a burbot. Here are a couple of websites that give good descriptions: http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/fish/burbot.php or http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/fish/lota.html. You'll notice, though, that they state these fish are found in the Northern U.S. What has happened is that a year or two ago these were illegally planted in some waters around Farson, Wyoming (I think) and have quickly moved their way downstream and into the Gorge. I hear their population has exploded, and while there still is a limit on these fish since they are game fish, the limit is 25 per person and release is not allowed. You catch it, you keep it. The bad news is that they eat a lot of the same things the large lake trout and small mouth bass eat, so there is concern for too much competition for the same food chain. It's expected that they will reach the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam by next summer, and if so will decimate the trout populations there. Hence the no release rule. The good news is that these fish have an amazing taste. I didn't know until reading those articles myself that they are part of the cod family, but it certainly explains the wonderful flavor of the meat. We chopped it up and boiled it, then ate it with melted butter. YUMMY! I have instructed my dad to go back and get more! I did find it interesting that another name for these fish is the lawyer fish. Could that be because they resemble eels or snakes? Well, my dad did say when you pick them up to get them off the hook, they wrap their tails around your arm. Ew.
Another interesting thing is that somehow my daughter has become a hot cocoa connoisseur. I guess when she was visiting her Granna's house (my mom) without me, she got to have hot cocoa. This morning she asked me for some, and so I made up a cup for her to take with her to daycare. She took one drink and informed me that it wasn't hot cocoa, it was hot chocolate and she didn't want it. I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is, but I guess I better get in touch with Granna and find out what Sweetpea has been drinking there!
And now for the best thing that happened. I probably should give a little background here. My family all lives in the same neighborhood in my hometown. My sister's house is right next door to my grandparents' house. My parents' house is around the corner and four houses up. Across the street from my sister and grandparents, and out my parents' backyard gate, is a pretty large park by small town standards called Garnet Park. It includes a couple sets of playground equipment, a basketball court, a tennis court, some horseshoe pits, a small fountain, a couple picnic areas and a large expanse of open grass, as well as some pathways and benches. This was my stomping ground as a kid. The Park is surrounded by neighborhood, but if you head directly up the hill from the park it's only 5 or 6 blocks before you hit the edge of town. This is open prairie/desert, which is of course inhabited by deer. Sometimes in the winter, the deer will head into the neighborhood at night and end up in the park. This has happened more and more the last few winters. Well, Friday night, my mom, sister, the kids and I were all at my sister's house waiting for the guys to come back from the fishing trip. About 10:00 my mom finally gave up and started to head home. She'd only been gone about five minutes when the phone rang. It was her, calling to tell us there was deer and a naked guy in the park. Yes, that's right, a naked guy. She said it so nonchalantly we at first thought she was kidding. By the time my sister and I and the kids got upstairs, the naked guy was gone. We did take the kids out to see the deer, of which there were four does laying down by one of the picnic areas. Apparently the naked guy was not completely naked, he did have shoes on. Which makes sense since by that time the temperature was probably down to 10 degrees (it bottomed out that night at either 6 or 8 degrees above zero.) Certainly he wouldn't want to run through the dusting of snow in 10 degree weather with bare feet. When I asked mom if she was sure he was naked, she said there was no doubt. He was a young man, probably just a teenager, and she said she got the impression he was probably doing it on a dare, since he was running so fast and there was a get-away car waiting for him at the other end of the park. The kicker is that he was running with his hands cupped between his legs. My dad later made the comment that in that temperature he was sure not doing it to prevent things from flopping about. My mom has decided to write a letter to the editor of the city's paper to let the young man know that there was a witness to the escapade, and I'm sure I'll help her with that since I really can't resist. In our discussions of him, we have nicknamed him "Runs Naked With Deer", and he will surely be a chapter in family lore.