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A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

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November 30, 2014

A Thanksgiving Mishmash

Sometimes you get what you get when you get the internet

Well, it happens to the best and the worst of us. The mechanical hard drive on my trusty reliable ten year old Macbook Pro started making horrible noises, and now The Wife is talking about taking it to a specialist for data recovery. On my laptop is the oh so brilliant and excruciatingly long blog essay explaining the current political situation which I now can’t access and bring to a stunning conclusion for your reading enjoyment and edification. To tell the truth it kinda sucked anyway.

So here I’ll show you some photos I’ve recently taken, with a bit of narrative. I might’ve had more pictures to show but of course they’re all on my laptop. But I have a few available. This photo is the best one I’ve taken recently, it’s very nice.

Hornet's Nest In Front Of My House
Hornet's Nest In Front Of My House

This sucker is hanging from the maple tree in front of my house. The Wife noticed it in passing like last week, but on early Thanksgiving afternoon a friend who had come by to help eat our turkey was all ecstatic about it. She had tried to take a photo with her phone but the nest came out as a dark blob because of the light behind it.

So I went outside with my camera and stood in a snow bank with the sun behind me to get this photo. It’s funny that we didn’t have a hornet problem during the warm months, I guess the inhabitants of the nest knew enough to stay away from the house and the humans. The Wife wanted me to take it down and bring it into the house, but she had no plans for it. We don’t need any more lovely works of natural beauty decaying in the corners of the house so it stays on the tree.

That snowy Thanksgiving morning The Wife had gone off to run in the Troy Turkey Trot 5K. Despite the not particularly severe snowstorm, which the corporate media shrilly hyped as “snowpocolypse,” the various Turkey Trot races attracted about four billion people and went off smoothly with no snow or ice obstructions on the roadways. Not a speck, according to The Wife. Indeed, the Turkey Trot authorities announced that the race would run as planned even before the snow started falling the night before.

Some Of The Wife's Turkey Trot Medals
Some Of The Wife's Turkey Trot Medals

Most years that she runs The Wife gets a t-shirt and a medal. It’s like a non-confrontational alternative kindergarten, nobody loses and everybody is a winner. She’s collected a bunch of these medals over the years, which she hangs proudly on a mirror, and she wears the current one for a few days. Some of her collected medals are quite stately, but this year’s medal is about the silliest looking award for anything I’ve ever seen.

I usually go with her to the 5Ks to lend support as she plods. This race I let her go by herself because I wanted to get the turkey into the oven early and certainly didn’t want to put it in and let it burn down the house while I was standing on the side of the road in Troy freezing my sweet butt for the better part of an hour waiting for The Wife to trudge into view. I look forward to cooking and eating this turkey every year, it was 25.8 pounds and no way was it going to be ruined.

Every year we special order this bird in the summer from Homestead Farms out on Route 2 across the river on the other side of Brunswick, climbing the hill toward the Vermont border. Despite buying the best quality poultry from them for like forever, for some reason I can never remember the name of the poultry farm so I always call it The Chicken Ladies because it is mostly run by women. This turkey, like all their birds, had a short but happy hormone-less and antibiotic-less free-range life, and then the bird had one very bad day which was last Saturday. We went out to the farm to pick up the prepared bird late afternoon this past Sunday.

It's Big, But Last Year's Bird Was More Than 29 Pounds And Almost Didn't Fit In The Oven
It's Big, But Last Year's Bird Was More Than 29 Pounds And Almost Didn't Fit In The Oven

The reason I had abandoned The Running Wife that morning to cook a turkey was because my friend, who is a fine upstanding person who deserves better, earlier this year was forced to take a job with a certain large corporate retailer. If I mentioned on this blog which one she works for and what she does there she would probably come after me with an iron pipe. Despite hating every second of it she needs the job, which, as everyone ought to know, are in short supply.

So the corporate retailer decreed that she had to come in to work at 6 PM on Thanksgiving and work straight through to 6 AM without overtime. Usually on Thanksgiving she drives down to New Jersey for her annual visit to her elderly relatives who are not getting any younger or any healthier, and she was much distressed about that. So I hoped to ease her pain a bit by inviting her to share our meal, but that meant the bird had to go in the oven at 9 AM right after The Wife had to leave for Troy.

There should be a law that no one except a few essential service people should be forced to work on Thanksgiving, and any corporate executive who insists otherwise should simply be shot on sight. Anyone who shops for non-essential items on Thanksgiving should be thrown into solitary until after Christmas. My friend who had to work all night later reported that a fair number of customers showed up at her job in the evening while the snow was falling heavily, but between midnight and 6 AM almost no one showed up. I mean, what do people purchase at 5 AM other than coffee and maybe breakfast.

She showed up at our house on Thanksgiving about 1 PM shortly after The Wife got back, with her two teenage sons and a migraine headache. The 15 year old: “So when do we eat?” She was not looking forward to going to work at 6 PM, but I made sure that at least she wouldn’t descend to retail hell that evening with an empty stomach.

The Ornamental Apple Tree I Planted At The Corner Of Morton Avenue And South Swan Street Like 20 Years Ago, Thanksgiving Morning

The Ornamental Apple Tree I Planted At The Corner Of Morton Avenue And South Swan Street Like 20 Years Ago,
Thanksgiving Morning

We always hear ad nauseam that “Black Friday” is the biggest shopping day of the year, but actually by sales it’s the fifth biggest shopping day and for the last few years the numbers have been declining. You wouldn’t know that from the corporate media, which pushes this falsehood because of the advertising sales bonanza that it gets. I strongly suspect that my friend and all the other grunt retail employees are forced to work overnight and on Thanksgiving so as to artificially boost the Black Friday sales numbers (which are usually calculated as “the weekend.”)

I shared this thought with my friend, she was not in the least bit comforted by it. By the next day she was pretty much shot through and gibbering. At the end of her rope and probably drooling into her lap she emailed me the following:

$10 Door busters. They don't even really care what it is. Oh my God, I need that $10 door buster. What the f--k is it? Who cares? It's $10! I need five

I’m so ignorant I had to look that up. The word “doorbuster” is said to go all the way back to the 1890s, when a frenzied mob of ladies busted down a door at a department store in Philadelphia to get at stylish dresses on sale, while the term “Black Friday” was allegedly first used by Philadelphia traffic cops in the 1960s to describe having to work on what was then already a big shopping day. Personally, I hate crowds and I can afford to stay home.

The Forsythia Bush In Our Side Yard

The Forsythia Bush In Our Side Yard

Actually I did go outside while the turkey was cooking to shovel snow and I brought my camera. The snow had a soggy underlayer and clung to everything it fell onto. I expected the snow to be difficult to shovel, but to my surprise it was easy to move.

I chatted for a bit with a lady from the Caribbean who had moved to the neighborhood at the end of last summer. She is experiencing the frigid months of Albany for the first time and was unfamiliar with snow. Despite it all she seemed to be handling it well. So far.

She asked me, in all seriousness, “How long until it melts?” Having seen all the National Weather Service reports I told her it would probably melt in the next few days, but there would be plenty more snow later. She pointed across the street at Lincoln Park and said, “I think everybody now knows I’m not from around here because I was the only one to take my kids to play in the snow.”

I laughed and told her that most parents take their kids to go about a block or so down Morton Avenue to sled the steep hill across from the Stewarts shop. I knew for a fact that several of her neighbors went down there with their kids last night and that morning. But, I added, her kids might be a little young for a hill that steep. I also told her I often lose garbage can lids to kids on their way to that hill.

The Steep Hill Across From Stewarts In Better Weather

The Steep Hill Across From Stewarts In Better Weather

That hill, by the way, was once covered with some 60 or so houses that were inhabited by dirt poor Irish immigrants. It was considered a terrible slum so embarrassing that the neighborhood was carefully left out of comprehensive guidebooks to Albany, which were popular in the late 1800s. According to historian and retired politician Jack McEneny, the Irish were evicted in 1910 and their homes destroyed, after which the hill was landscaped and added to Lincoln Park.

The community on the hill was called Martinville after the fellow who built it. I’ve made a few stabs at finding source material about the end of Martinville, digging through microfiche of old newspapers at the library and such. You would think there would have been some sort of legal proceedings or Common Council debates, but the record of what must have been a disaster for the Irish immigrants is buried pretty deeply.

Morton Avenue And South Swan Street, Thanksgiving Morning

Morton Avenue And South Swan Street, Thanksgiving Morning

It was rather pretty outside Thanksgiving morning, hardly anybody else outside and just above freezing. I thought of taking more pictures but I had to do at least a minimal amount of shoveling and I couldn’t go wandering around looking at snow with that turkey in the oven. Indeed the melt made some of the pretty snow drop off of branches and wires, particularly the next morning. I got nailed on the head several times both days.

Tree In Our Side Yard Black Friday Morning

Tree In Our Side Yard Black Friday Morning

The next evening we had some more guests over to help us eat the turkey. They dug in pretty good but at the end of the weekend we still have quite a bit left. That’s fine with me, I am happy to eat this fine organically raised turkey and gravy for a week. Some people complain about turkey leftovers but not me. Bring it on.

One of our dinner guests on Saturday was a certain young lady who is currently living in Minnesota whom we had watched get born and grow up, and just this year she graduated from college. Currently, with her degree in hand, she is working as a bicycle mechanic. Like I said, jobs are scarce. I snapped a photo of her in front of a picture hanging in our living room, but because the wall hanging is slightly NSFW I’m putting it on a separate page.

So with no more decent pictures to show because of my fubar laptop, I’ll conclude with this one photo I took at Thompson’s Lake last July. A bunch of us went up for a daylong picnic, boating and swimming and eating. It’s a reminder that if all goes well, this cold weather and horrible holidays will pass and the outdoors world will be nice and pleasant again.

Thomson's Lake In The Heldebergs Of Albany County, July 2014

Thompsons Lake In The Heldebergs Of Albany County, July 2014


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