Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Thanks...and No Thanks

The turkey is thawing out for its big debut, the cans of cranberry sauce are getting scarce on store shelves, and we're ready to get stuffed. Get out your horn of plenty and shine up the silver: it's almost Thanksgiving!

Does your family go around the table and have each person tell one thing they are thankful for? My relatives aren't big on cliches, or emotional displays, or formality, so we focus solely on the eating, but I always pause at some point on Turkey Day to think of all the things I have for which to be grateful. There are the big, obvious things like health, friends, and family. And the trivial, but still significant things that are the tent poles of my life, like Diet Coke and extra hold hairspray.

This year, I have a few extra ideas of things I'm thankful for--and a few things I'd just as soon give no thanks at all.

A bounty of thanks and gratitude to the following gems:

Days of Our Lives. I'm thankful for my daily soap opera, not because it's well written, must-see television (it isn't). What makes me appreciate Days of Our Lives is that no matter what is going on in the rest of the world, it is always good not to be a resident of Salem. Having a bad day? Have you been brainwashed, kidnapped, baby switched, presumed dead, comatose, blackmailed, or possessed? I didn't think so. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of their unfortunate lives. Watch a few minutes and immediately feel better about your situation.

Knee Scooters. While I'm sad to report that my most awesome knee scooter was turned in last week, I'm grateful for the time we had together. Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened, or whatever it is they say. You cannot fully appreciate the gift of a knee scooter until you've spent a day or two on crutches, but believe me, that little 4-wheeled wonder was a gift. And I have the tire marks and scuffs on our baseboards to prove it. Thank you, knee scooter, for giving me a ride, getting me up and around, and letting me prop up on you while flatiron curling my hair. You were a godsend.

Dream Kardashian. I never thought I would give thanks for anything Kardashian, that much is a certainty. But after the election, when all of social media was flooded with crying, whining, and gnashing of liberal teeth, it seemed we were so divided we couldn't agree on anything. And then Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna went ahead and named their baby Dream. Suddenly, we found common ground in agreeing that it was the worst baby name ever. We united against bad taste. I suppose if your child is going to be seated at the kiddie table at family functions with cousins named North and Saint, you want a name as absurd as possible. Mission accomplished.

The Whopperito. Per the Burger King website, "The WHOPPERRITO™ is made with savory flame-grilled 100% beef and seasoned with a special blend of spices to deliver the ultimate burger-burrito mashup. It’s stuffed with a creamy Queso, pickles, diced onions, juicy tomatoes, and crisp lettuce all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla." Did you throw up in your mouth yet, because I know I did. Please note that they list the name of this delicacy in all caps, which I assume means they want you to scream it rather than say it. Why on earth am I thankful for this monstrosity? The Whopperito gives me a sliver of hope, because no matter how much of a glutton I have been already this season--no matter what indulgences I've given in to, scarfed down, or binged upon, it all seems to pale in comparison to the "ultimate burger-burrito mashup." Just when I'm afraid I've eaten all the food, I can console myself: I haven't eaten THAT. And then I am thankful, indeed. 

And a kindly thanks, but no thanks is in order for a few other things,which I'm sure are well-meaning. You know what they say the road to hell is paved with, yes?

The Nest thermostat. Isn't technology supposed to make your life easier? Last year, we bought the Nest, a thermostat that is supposed to become intuitive to your temperature preferences and adjust accordingly (you can also manually program it, if you have the time, patience, and inclination...we here at Chez Stancil do not). I say "supposed" to, because it's like the Nest doesn't know us at all--either that, or it has just decided to be spiteful. I am forever too hot, too cold, and fiddling with that blasted thermostat. We have even added the Nest app to our phones, not so much for use when we are away, but to save us the approximately one thousand trips a day we make to the hallway to adjust our fancy thermostat. Thanks for overheated, undercooled, poorly climate-controlled nothing, Nest. 

Pepsi Cola. I know, this one is so predictable, but I'm just going to go ahead and beat this dead horse again. In my humble opinion, Pepsi is a vile beverage not fit for human consumption. Give me Coca Cola or leave me thirsty (I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Patrick Henry really said). Years ago, when we had first moved to Charlotte, this Georgia native proclaimed to an office full of coworkers that Pepsi was a Yankee drink. I was gently corrected with the fact that Pepsi is, in fact, a North Carolina company, much to my shock and chagrin. I can't believe the South produces something of this caliber. How could anyone with noncompromised taste buds possibly pretend to enjoy this concoction? I can't fathom. And so, for the zillionth time in my life, I must tell Pepsi: thanks, but definitely no thanks. 

It's the season of gratitude, so I won't dwell on dislikes, although I will add very solid no thank-yous to: all the self-proclaimed political pundits on social media these days (free opinions are worth their price), vegetables of any kind not ensconced in a casserole (it's officially the holidays, y'all--put anything steamed and healthy away until January), and my final and fiercest no thanks to grammatical errors on Christmas cards (help me help you help yourself here, so you don't wind up being the Smith's when you are, in reality, the Smiths). 

The best news of all is that Thanksgiving is here! Load your plate with dressing (not stuffing, clearly), go back for seconds and thirds but save room for dessert, and remember that everyone loves a hero who helps with the dishes. Count your blessings and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tales from the Tailgate

After missing Clemson's homecoming because of my broken ankle, I was ready to get back to God's country for another football weekend--thankfully, accident free this time. I won't say it was without challenges, but we came, we saw, we limped around, and it was a good weekend for all.

You know you're setting off on an adventure when you strap your knee scooter to the back of the car and head off on your merry way:

We got to Clemson Friday afternoon around 5:00. Clearly, we needed to grab some ice because it was happy hour. Which has taken on a whole new meaning for me now.

On the rocks, indeed. After resting up a while, we grabbed some dinner at the local Mexican restaurant and then headed to the (very awesome) Clemson-themed Super Bi-Lo to pick up a few last minute tailgate supplies. Clint admits he was dreading how long it was going to take me to hobble around the store, and I wasn't exactly looking forward to putting more mileage on my ankle, when he spotted the motorized shopping carts. I'll confess that I've pretty much always wanted to take one for a spin, but being the consummate rule follower that I am, I never thought I would get the chance.

But there I was, cruising around Clemson on a wild Friday night (or, as my friend Nick and the caption winner of the week so aptly put it, "boot scootin'"). To answer your question, yes, it beeped when I backed up. I wanted to do a doughnut or two, but my sensible husband was afraid it might tip over and leave me with a broken arm as well, so we erred on the side of caution.

Saturday morning arrived and it was game day--and military appreciation day, at that. Clemson had asked fans to wear purple to show their support for the military, so of course we planned accordingly. What does one wear for a "purple out" when sporting a walking boot and coping with a broken ankle? A "Bad to the Bone" shirt, of course. (A lady passing by who turned out to be an orthopedic nurse was particularly a fan.)

Add a little alma mater bling to the ol' boot, and I was good to go.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and it was great to be out and about, spending time with friends in my most favorite of places.

What with my injury and all, I didn't bring quite as much to the tailgate spread as I typically do (more like crackers and cookie cake this time), so these girls were a Godsend showing up with a delicious buffet for us all. I get by with a little help from my friends, thank goodness.

Come game time, I knew there was no chance I could climb the stadium steps to our seats. Our group headed off to Death Valley, and Clint and I stayed behind to watch the big-screen set up at the tailgate next to us. That crowd was getting a little rowdier than we were up for (it sounded like a Jerry Springer episode over there), and we started pondering if it was possible to ride the scooter to the Esso Club to join the game day crowd there. While it's downhill going, it's uphill coming back, and the thought of it was a little daunting.

Luckily for me, one of the athletic department parking volunteers happened by on his golf cart and empathized. He told us that he wasn't supposed to cross the highway to take us to the Esso, but he had been through a knee replacement and knew what it was like, and would take us anyway. On the ride, this adorable man told me he is an 87-year old farmer, and that recovering from knee replacement surgery was "like a vacation." He explained that riding a "little old stationary bike to nowhere" was the easiest work he'd done in quite a while. I love the Clemson family.

We joined the enthusiastic crowd gathered around the televisions in the Esso parking lot and watched the Tigers roll over the Syracuse Orange 54-0. Like I mentioned, it was military appreciation day, which Clemson does like no other, so sadly we missed plenty of pomp and circumstance by not making in to the actual game. Here are a couple of pictures the University shared of the revelry:

Nothing gets the game started on the right note quite like your mascot parachuting into the stadium. 

Halftime featured a 21-gun salute to honor fallen soldiers. 

Meanwhile, we had plenty of company and quite a crowd watching along with us over at the Esso. Our tailgate squad left the game at halftime and came over to join us.

A couple of super extra strength ibuprofen and an ice pack aside, it was a great day. Mercifully, I was able to score yet another golf cart ride back to our car, and managed to get myself a hot shower before falling into bed around 9:30. It wasn't a typical game day, but it worked just fine.

Last, but not least, Clint snapped this photo of me on my motorized cart. He said I should caption it "riding off into the sunset," and so it seems like a fitting way to end this week's post. 

Happy trails to you...until we meet again....