In Which The Canadian Gives Thanks

Here in America, the debate is all tangled up around whether or not we ought to celebrate a day named for a notoriously bloody colonialist who also happened to snag the credit for ‘discovering’ North America. I’m fascinated by how deeply he is wound into the American psyche (on both sides) but mostly I am glad to be Canadian and celebrating an equally controversial but, for me, deeply warm and gracious Canadian holiday: Thanksgiving. Feeding people is one of the most rewarding things going and, when you’re feeding them a gorgeous golden turkey stuffed with all sorts of bread, herbs, and love, well, it just makes me feel good. But before I get to my Thanksgiving adventures, let’s back it on up and see what the rest of the week entailed.


Tuesday was a fairly standard run of work, tutoring, reading, and sleep before, in a flash, it was Wednesday and the week was picking up. I started my day working from home before a meeting in Lower Manhattan which I reached via a very crowded J train. I guess everyone had a 10:30 in the Financial District. After the meeting it was off to the library to work for a while before attending a talk at the Center for Data Science. It was a rather atypical talk focusing more on biology than data but it was fascinating. It addressed the mechanism of the Allee effect in breast cancer cells. It seems that a critical mass of cells is required for proliferation as the cells produce the peptide and dipeptide precursors to proteins that their fellow cells need to proliferate—a finding which suggests that the introduction of the right peptidase could make a big difference in cancer outcomes. I shall be following the lab in question.

After wrapping up the rest of the afternoon at the office, I then slipped off to the chiropractor before a night of dance. Only two weeks after the last, we had another class with Karel Flores and she worked us hard! The focus of the class was foot action and strength which means that we did the entire warm up on relevé and then, with screaming calves, turned to the actual choreography. No matter how long I dance, I will always need stronger feet and ankles, and if I ever conquer those, I’m confident my shoulder alignment and core will keep me busy until the end of time.

By 10:20, I was at westie attempting to manage the magic entailed in turning my sweat soaked salsa self into some semblance of a cool, calm, and relatively fresh west coast swing dancer. I’m never quite sure of my degree of success, but it seems to be sufficient, for a Wednesday night at least.

The following day saw me peeling myself out of bed and dragging into work. I probably shouldn’t stay out so late on Wednesdays, but especially when I only arrive around 10:30, it seems sacrilegious to leave before the night ends at 12:30. And so I get home after 1am and wonder why it’s always so hard to get up less than 6 hours later. Either way, by the time I got out of the office I was flagging. I caffeinated myself into function for tutoring and then drifted my way home to collapse.

I was doing an excellent job of feeling sorry for my sleepy self, when my dear friend Mandy saved me from my lethargy with the suggestion of tea and/or wine. Sometime later, we were sitting on the floor of my room double fisting Pino Grigio and herbal tea. Judge away, it was lovely! After several hours of refreshing chatter, Mandy headed home and I climbed into bed with about seven hours before morning.

Come Friday, I was running out of time to prepare my part of the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, so I stopped off at Trader Joe’s on my way home from work. They had most of the things I needed but oddly, almost no dried herbs or spices. So I set off for the quaint little spice stall in the Essex St Market. The charming proprietor sold me my last bottle of olive oil and nearly sold me half his selection of balsamic vinegars, but I resisted on that occasion, only eyeing the giant glass case of herbs and spices. This time, the trick was to resist the oil while bee-lining for the herbs. Letting me smell the intoxicating fragrances of each one, he sold me an ounce of each of sage, parsley, and rosemary, but alas, not even my wonderful spice man had savoury. The following day upon finding that none of my American friends had ever heard of savoury and that none of them could find it in their local grocery store either, I did a bit of research and discovered that it is in fact a “Canadian Thing”(TM). It’s always the strangest little things that prove to be impossible to find while living abroad, but fortunately in this case the savoury would not be much missed with copious applications of sage and thyme.

Still suffering from a decided lack of sleep, however, I carried my treasure trove home, sliced up my stuffing bread, left it out to dry, and lazed the rest of the night away.

Saturday morning, I hopped out of bed bright and early to conquer laundry and house cleaning before my day really kicked off. By 10:45 I was on the other side of Lower Manhattan waiting for the start of a walking tour all along the length of Canal Street. Our guide was a nearly life-long New Yorker who, from the sounds of things, spent the 70s as a teenager getting into all sorts of the best kinds of trouble in the big bad city that was New York at the time. We learned all manner of tidbits about the street and its surrounds before, about two hours later, returning to my end of Canal Street, where the rest of the tour group headed into a dumpling shop that once was a communist milk bar for lunch, I made a detour past North Dumpling and hurried off to acquire a few more grocery items for Sunday.

After that, it was time to run home, change, pack a dance bag, and head into the Midtown. It was not to be that easy. I was to discover a new and exciting lingering effect of my on-going battle with my credit card company and whatever charming soul managed to get my (now cancelled but apparently still functional) card number from the undisclosed merchant who had a little bit of a breach. Yes, despite the card being cancelled, someone was able to use it to set up recurring payments on Netflix who then were able to query the credit card company for the new number in order to charge the recurring payment. Every call I make to the that charming 800 number gets a little less patient and a little less friendly, but if we’re lucky, and if I’ve been as thorough as I think I have, we should finally be done with the nonsense.

Before you recommend it, no, I’m not really in the position to cancel the account and open a new one as, with only one year’s credit history in this country, I am basically ineligible for all but the worst credit products and have only just earned my way out of a safety deposit on my current arrangement.

Somewhat later than planned, I managed to get to the studio where I met Patrick for a bit of practice before the evening’s workshops at Gotham Swing. The inimitable Gary and Susan were in town so it was time to settle in and learn. Three hours later I was pleasantly inundated with information and off for a quick deli dinner and chat before heading back to Gotham to dance. It was a busy night full of excellent music and dance with a lovely interlude wherein I got to catch up with an old salsa friend from Victoria who was attending the salsa night in the next studio over.

When the music stopped and I stepped out into the night I was rather rudely reminded of the delights of the MTA by the recollection that neither of my normal trains were running over the weekend. Grumbling a bit, I climbed onto an R which took me to a J which was surprisingly full of young, stylishly dishevelled people who I must assume live either in Williamsburg or Bedstuy. I got off the train well before any of them, so I shall never know to which they belonged.

After a few hours of sleep, I was shaken out of bed by my alarm which sent me, laden with supplies, out to the train. I would like to say that I walked to the train, but really I swam. It was a veritable monsoon and, as Manhattanites know only too well, this city doesn’t drain, so I slopped through the rivers that once were streets and 15 minutes later finally found myself in the Spring St subway station waiting for the 6. From the 6, I made my way through the hallowed halls of Grand Central Terminal and transferred onto a Metro-North train to White Plains. About 45 minutes later I was tying an apron onto myself and taking over a kitchen.

One of my dance friends, Jessie, had generously offered to host a whole hoard of us for Canadian Thanksgiving and it was only fair that the Canadian (and lover of turkey dinners) get herself out of bed and into the kitchen to cook the turkey. I sautéed, I spiced, I tossed, and I stuffed and shortly thereafter, I had a big old bird in the oven—my very first Butterball. I’ve never done a Butterball before, but when in Rome… so I pulled the bag of gravy mix and the plastic wrapped instruction booklet out of body cavity and promptly pitched them in the bin before getting to work on the actual turkey itself. Due to a lack of skewers, the turkey’s various flaps were held together by an obligingly large safety pin. I have never claimed to be Martha, but I make it work.

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Once the turkey was safely roasting away, I helpfully plopped myself on the couch and played with the cat until it was time to start getting neurotic about the final few minutes of cooking which lie between food poisoning and dry, disappointing awful. Fortunately the neuroses did their work and by 3:30pm we were strewn all over the apartment, eating turkey, stuffing, soup, pierogies, salad, and the most American of all, candied yams! After letting the first course rest for a bit, we dug back into fruit, polish apple cake, and the most heavenly chocolate pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream. To call it a decadent afternoon would be a massive understatement.

Most of the party followed dessert with a hot tub, but this particular lazy-bones, only half intentionally, passed out on the couch. I did eventually join the others for a bit more socializing and dance practice but I was still a very stuffed, sleepy beast and in no time at all, it was time to head to the train back to the city and the impending workweek.

This morning, I faced another hot wet commute followed by eight hours in the freezer that is my office. I would like to send pictures of myself curled up in my blanket at my desk to whoever runs the HVAC in our building but somehow I doubt it would make a difference. Nonetheless, I made it through the frigid day and the toasty subway back to my cozy little apartment where judicious use of a fan has me so comfortable I just might fall asleep.

Bon Nuit,
The Salsa Girl


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